Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: How You Can Make A Difference.

March 30th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Animal Cruelty | Animal Health | Animal Welfare | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month: How You Can Make A Difference.)
Written by: Alexandra Young, Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager

Since 2006, April has been recognized throughout the U.S. as National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month, thanks to the efforts of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

From the Middle Ages onward, there have been barbaric practices related to how animals are treated. Many of these actions come as the result of superstition, religious beliefs, or outright lack of compassion or respect for the animals humans use to increase capacity and make money, especially animals like working horses. Although we live in what is considered to be a civilized world, animal neglect, abuse and cruelty are still pervasive today.

In Pennsylvania, a person commits cruelty to animals (Sec. 5533 of the Pennsylvania Statute1) if they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly ill-treat, overload, beat, abandon or abuse an animal. Aggravated cruelty, as defined by Sec. 5534 of the Pennsylvania Statute, is committed when torture, neglect or cruelty causes serious bodily injury or the death of an animal.

With some thoughtful planning and your smartphone, you may save animals’ lives when you least expect it.

The first thing you can do is research the laws in your most frequented area (your workplace or home). These laws include, but are not limited to:

  • Tethering unattended dogs; there are specific requirements depending on the weather
  • General neglect of basic needs (food, water, and shelter) and medical care
  • Animal fighting and possession of animal fighting paraphernalia
  • Outdated cosmetic procedures, including: cropping ears, docking tails (puppies over 5 days old) and surgically debarking dogs
  • Animals trapped in overheated vehicles

Next, determine the municipality of a street address or intersection. In Pennsylvania, you can find this information through the Pennsylvania Department of Community of Economic Development’s Municipal Statistics website: http://munstats.pa.gov/Public/FindMunicipality.aspx

Now you can obtain the phone number of the local Humane Officer or Animal Control agency for the area and save it in your favorite contacts. If you frequent more than one city or county on a daily basis, save this information by location. If the agency (or agencies) you’ve identified offers online reporting of cruelty, save the link within that contact for quick retrieval.

When you make a report through a phone call or online, you’ll need to leave your contact information so the agency can follow up with you, but your identity is kept strictly confidential. Just remember that you could be the only — or last — chance at survival for an animal.

See it, say it: To avoid retaliation, many people hesitate to report their neighbors even when they know an animal is being mistreated. However, I realized through my experiences working at a shelter with animal control officers that many people frequent the same daily routes where they may regularly see a neglected or suffering animal.

In pre-pandemic times, that included mail carriers, bus drivers and package couriers. Today, COVID has increased deliveries from retail stores and restaurants, whose staff must now take pictures as verification of successful deliveries!

If you see something, do not hesitate. Report animal abuse!

One of the most common situations is finding a dog (or a cat) locked in a parked car on a warm day. Many people do not realize that even on a 72-degree day, a car’s internal temperature can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.2

To protect pets that are left unattended in parked cars in hot weather, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolfe signed House Bill 1216, the Motor Vehicle Extreme Heat Protection Act, in 2019. It allows law enforcement officers to enter a car if an animal is believed to be in danger or being neglected.

NOTE: This law does not protect citizens against liability; it protects police/humane/animal control officers or other public safety professionals in this specific situation.

If you see an animal stuck in a hot car:

  • Record the make, model and license plate number of the car.
  • If possible, take a photo of the animal in the car as well as the surrounding area (ex. showing no shade in the parking lot).
  • Go to the nearest business and ask them to make an announcement to find the car’s owner. Many owners are unaware of this danger and will quickly return when notified.
  • If the owner is not found, do not wait and do not break into the car yourself. Call the authorities!

Recently, there have been new guidelines announced associated with tethering dogs, increased penalties for animal abuse, and more protection for horses and other animals. Fines range from $300 to $2,000 with jail time even for a summary offense.

Community change may be slow to occur, but it can only occur when individuals refuse to accept the status quo. Be the voice of animals that depend on compassionate, empathetic, courageous and proactive humans. Join Humane Pennsylvania in building the best community anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

 

Learn more about our Healthy Pets Initiative and other resources we offer at humanepa.org.

References:
1. www.legis.state.pa.us
2. https://patch.com/pennsylvania/newtown-pa/pas-new-hot-car-law-protect-pets-what-know-summer)

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The Purpose-Driven Veterinary Practice

March 17th, 2022 | Posted by Karel Minor in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Purpose-Driven Veterinary Practice)
Written by: Karel Minor, Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President

It’s extremely satisfying to see the large fish foundations and animal welfare organizations embracing and championing access to veterinary care. Humane PA has embraced and proselytized access to veterinary care as a core of our mission for nearly 20 years. And yes, to paraphrase Cake, I have the t-shirt to prove I was there and I heard of it first. I recognize the importance of this concept in helping animals, people, and entire communities. All are welcome to this party — the more, the merrier!

But there is a problem. The term “access to care” means something different to different people and organizations. Some people think it means free or reduced care, or certain types of care, or every kind of care, or only charitable or non-profit care. In fact, the same term can encompass any and/or all of these things.

At Humane Pennsylvania, it has been and meant many different things since we first started offering expanded veterinary services to the community in 2005. In the decades before that, when we had the regularly offered low-cost sterilization program in the area, it was something entirely different.

So to combat misunderstandings around what access to care means, Humane PA takes a purpose-driven approach to practice management. When a service, program, or even phrase offers so much opportunity for confusion, the first step is to answer the question: “What is the purpose of what we are doing?”

Seventeen years ago, access to care for HPA (then the Humane Society of Berks County) meant getting access to vet care for our own sheltered animals. It quickly changed to include providing limited vet care access to the community, because they needed it and we had it — at least a little of it. We started with vaccinations. Then some wellness care. Then sick care and additional surgical interventions. Our definition of access to vet care changed as our capacity to deliver it changed.

But we remained in a reactive posture, not a proactive one, for some time. We thought the access we had and could provide to the community could vanish in the blink of an eye. It felt transitory. Smaller shelters like ours didn’t have vet practices — and weren’t supposed to have vet practices. And frankly, we didn’t really know what we were doing in the first couple of years.

Then we started to get into new budget years where we had to plan for the coming year and how we would pay for costs associated with providing access to vet care. We began to realize we could do anything. We could provide anything our shelter animals and our communities needed. The possibilities were there — but we just couldn’t afford to do it. Just like the local for-profit vet can’t.

Sure, we could all give every penny of our own money to the charitable cause of our choice. And in the short term, it would really help the cause. But once the money runs out and we’ve sold our homes, clothes, and vehicles, not only is the charity out of luck, but we no longer have anything left to give.

Out of necessity, purpose rapidly rises to the top of the list of considerations. What are we trying to do? What do we mean when we say access to care? And what can we afford?

I will focus on several important aspects of access to care and purpose-driven vet practice management in future posts. But today, I will suggest that sustainability is the most crucial aspect for any charity or for-profit business, regardless of its purpose.

If 100 people need help each week, choices must be made. Helping all 100 people might take all the resources an organization has and bankrupt it. If the organization collapses after helping 100% of those 100 people, no one gets help the next week or the week after. It is a pyrrhic victory. This is not simply a theoretical situation — the former Humane League of Lancaster County faced that crisis when it overextended its reach and capacity in its first public animal hospital.

But if an organization finds a sustainable way to help 25 of those 100 people each week, it can consistently help that smaller number week after week. That’s not universal access to care, but it is sustainable access to care for a portion of the population in need. That’s a victory that lasts.

But now the decisions can get tricky. What if all 100 people don’t have an equal need? What if 50 of those people can pay half the bill and the other 50 people need the entire bill covered? Instead of providing 100% coverage to ensure 25 people get access to care, you could help the 50 people who only need half the help. That’s twice as many people helped each week. But some people still wouldn’t have access.

Humane Pennsylvania went through this exercise and chose to help the greatest number of people and animals. We decided to start with those requiring the least assistance to gain access, not those who needed the most assistance. That was a tough choice to make, but viewed through a purpose-driven lens, it’s the right choice.

The purpose of Humane Pennsylvania’s veterinary services is to help as many animals and people as possible gain access to vet care they otherwise would not be able to access or afford. Helping 10 people who only need $1.00 worth of assistance is 10 times more effective than helping one person who needs $10.00 of aid — and it helps 10 times more animals. Some might not agree with that decision and approach, and that’s their right. But I challenge them to find a practical, real-world way to close the gap starting from the bottom up.

Of course, we didn’t stop there. The financial realities only required us to start there. Identifying our purpose allowed us to find targeted ways to help those we weren’t helping and serve Humane Pennsylvania’s purpose: to stop needless animal suffering and death and build the best communities anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

We couldn’t give free, comprehensive vet care to all. But we could provide free microchip IDs to all and prevent needless deaths of unidentified strays in shelters. So we added that service to our purpose-driven practice model. We could have neighborhood vaccine clinics and prevent parvo and FeLV from killing dogs and cats. So added service to our purpose-driven practice model.

We spoke to clients who were being offered 100% free care, and they told us they wanted the opportunity to give something if they had it. So we created the pay-what-you-can model. If you can pay something, you pay what you can. If you can’t pay, you don’t. This empowers our clients with the ability to choose, and we have more resources to help more people.

We recently identified a service gap we believe we can fill with a veterinary walk-in clinic model. It’s modeled on human urgent care clinics and is groundbreaking and cutting edge in animal welfare. We are developing this new approach in tandem with a handful of other organizations around the nation as we all find a model that serves our purpose and is sustainable.

And sustainable is the secret word for the day. No program, no service, no good intention can survive and fulfill its purpose unless it can be sustained. Humane Pennsylvania, Humane Veterinary Hospitals Reading/Lancaster, and the Healthy Pets Initiative have found sustainable ways to help animals and people who had no access to vet care. And we keep finding new and better ways to fulfill our mission. As a result, tens of thousands of people and animals now get the leg up they need each year and have better health and wellbeing.

I am so excited to share the work we have been a part of pioneering right here in Berks and Lancaster Counties, with all the organizations seeing the value and the urgent need for sustainable, meaningful access to veterinary care.

Karel Minor, CEO & President
Humane Pennsylvania

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10-pound Rescue Pup Buoys Navy Veteran During COVID-19 Pandemic

March 3rd, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Feel Good Story - (Comments Off on 10-pound Rescue Pup Buoys Navy Veteran During COVID-19 Pandemic)

We wanted to share this heartwarming story with you all! Thank you, Pets for Patriots, for continuously bringing military veterans and shelter pets together!

Lizzy had a long journey from a Louisiana shelter to an animal welfare organization in Pennsylvania. But the 10-pound rescue pup would prove a worthy companion to a Navy veteran and his wife coping with isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIETNAM WAR ‘DAMBUSTERS’

Lloyd served as an aviation jet mechanic during the Vietnam war. These highly skilled professionals may serve at sea or on land. They are tasked with maintaining the integrity of internal and external aircraft systems and supporting all flight operations.

“I spent one-and-a-half years on a carrier with a fighter squadron of A-1H Skyraiders, VA-195,” Lloyd recalls. “We went up and down the coast of north and south Vietnam.”

Strike fighter squadron 195, or VA-195, was used extensively in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. In 1951 the squadron earned the nickname ‘Dambusters’ when they destroyed the strategic Hwachon Reservoir dam in North Korea.

The Vietnam war was deeply unpopular at home. However, that did not diminish the danger to our forces nor the sacrifices they made in service to our nation.

Lloyd is humble about the real perils he and his fellow sailors faced every day.

“We were also fired on by a sampan in the Gulf of Tonkin,” he shares. “No one was hurt, and a destroyer blew it to pieces.”

Sampans are small, flat-bottomed boats typically used by fishermen. But during the war, they were repurposed by the North Vietnamese to help transport weapons and combatants in their fight against Americans.

Lloyd’s tour of duty up and down the Vietnam coast “was the only dramatic thing” that transpired over the course of his Navy career.

In 1966, after more than three years of service, Lloyd separated from the Navy with an Honorable discharge to begin the rest of his life.

FROM LOUISIANA, WITH LOVE

Lloyd is currently retired and lives in Hamburg, Pennsylvania with his wife, Karen. The pair share their home – and love – with family of the four-legged variety.

“My wife and I have the two dogs,” he says. “Lizzy that’s three years old and Milo that is six years.”

Lizzy is a 10-pound rescue pup who trekked from a shelter in Tangipahou Parish in Louisiana to a Pennsylvania shelter. Her journey was not unusual.

Animal welfare organizations around the country have embraced interstate transport as a way to save millions of animals each year.

In October 2021 Lizzy arrived at Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving. The organization is part of Humane Pennsylvania, a cooperative of animal welfare organizations and nonprofit veterinarians.

Humane Pennsylvania has partnered with Pets for Patriots since 2019. Its shelters offer fee-waived adoptions to veterans in our program and 10 percent off fees at their full-service, affordable veterinary clinics.

Thankfully Lizzy’s long journey was not in vain. The petite pup was on the verge of going from homeless to home.

“…I COULD NOT RESIST HER”

Isolation caused by the seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic inspired Lloyd and Karen to adopt another companion pet. The couple visited Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving with the hopes of saving a four-legged soul in need of a loving home.

Shelter staff told the couple how our program works. Our mission to make pet guardianship more affordable for military veterans struck a chord with Lloyd.

“I was told about you at the humane society in Reading,” he says, “and I wanted to get the benefits that you offered.”

It is often said that our pets choose us as much as we choose them. This was definitely the case with Lizzy and Lloyd. The then three-year-old Dachshund-Beagle mix set her sights on the Navy veteran and won his heart in an instant.

“I love small dogs and Lizzy came right to me,” he says, “and I could not resist her.”

LITTLE LIZZY

No one knows for sure how Lizzy wound up in a Louisiana shelter. Or why she was among those chosen to be on a transport to Pennsylvania. But she is making up for her sad start to life by bringing joy to Lloyd, Karen, and her new dog sister Milo.

Fortunately, Lloyd has more than enough love in his heart for both of his four-legged family members. Together the dogs are doing wonders for his emotional health, especially during periods of long isolation brought on by COVID-19.

“I look forward to having and playing with both dogs every day. It puts me in a great mood.”

As for Lizzy, since her adoption, the 10-pound rescue pup has upped the energy in the household. She and Milo have bonded and do nearly everything together.

“They are the best pets and they keep us great company,” Lloyd says. “They both love to play and they have their own toys, just like little kids.”

While the pandemic inspired Lloyd to adopt another pet, do not mistake Lizzy for a short-term pandemic pup. Sadly, many pets adopted during the pandemic are being surrendered to shelters as their guardians return to work outside the home.

The Vietnam veteran, however, believes that when you adopt a pet, you adopt for that animal’s life.

Milo – and now Lizzy – seem to understand that they are in their permanent home. They feel confident that neither Lloyd nor Karen will give up on them. And they show their appreciation in ways big and small as pets do in their own special ways.

“When we go places and then come home they are there at the door to greet us both,” Lloyd shares. “In this time of the pandemic, we are so glad to have them both.”

Learn more about Pets for Patriots at petsforpatriots.org.

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Pet Poison Awareness Month

March 2nd, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Pet Poison Awareness Month)
By: Lisa Malkin, Director of Veterinary Services for Humane Veterinary Hospitals

Each year, more than 100,000 pets are accidentally exposed to toxins, resulting in emergency trips to the veterinarian or phone calls to Pet Poison Control hotlines.

What are the most common poisons and toxins ingested by pets, and where are they found?

Not surprisingly, the greatest risks to pets are found around the home. Plants, foods, human medications, cleaning supplies, and automotive products are responsible for the vast majority of pet poisoning cases reported to veterinarians and poison control centers.

Here are a few of the most common, as reported by the Pet Poison Helpline and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center:

  • More than 1,000 common plants can be toxic to pets. While not all toxic exposures are life-threatening, it is important to take any potentially harmful exposure seriously.

Lilies, azaleas, aloe vera, sago palm, English ivy, philodendron, hydrangea, poinsettia, dieffenbachia, and oleander are among the leading causes of poisoning among pets and should be avoided.

  • Many foods that we commonly eat can also present a poisoning risk to pets. Highest on the list are products containing alcohol or caffeine. Caffeine-containing products such as coffee, coffee beans, and chocolate can result in life-threatening conditions, including tremors, arrhythmias, seizures, and death.

Other common foods pets should avoid include avocado, citrus fruits, grapes, raisins, coconut, nuts,  garlic, onions, yeast dough, and any processed foods containing the sweetener Xylitol.

If you believe your pet has ingested any of these substances, contact your vet or local animal poison control center.

  • Household & Automotive Products. Many household and automotive products also pose a poisoning risk to pets. Bleach, ammonia, household cleansers, jewelry cleaner, and antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol are highly dangerous to pets and should be stored in sealed containers where pets cannot access them.

Many common cosmetic products — such as soap, mouthwash, deodorant, nail polish, nail polish remover, nail glue, sunscreen, toothpaste, and shampoo — also present a poisoning risk to pets and should be stored away from places your dog or cat (or rabbit, ferret, or other furry friends) can reach.

  • Human Medications. Many of these drugs are not appropriate for use by animals. Human doses of medications are often too potent to be safely ingested by pets.

In Case of a Pet Poisoning Emergency

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, do not wait for symptoms to appear. Immediately call your veterinarian, the local vet emergency hospital, the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

To ensure your pet’s overall health, visit hvhospitals.org and schedule a routine checkup, today!

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