National Rescue Dog Day: Gracie’s Story

May 26th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Adopt A Shelter Pet | Adoption Story | Animal Rescue | Feel Good Story | Humane Pennsylvania - (Comments Off on National Rescue Dog Day: Gracie’s Story)
By Taylor Althouse, Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving, Client Care Representative

May 20th was National Rescue Dog Day! To celebrate this special howliday, Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving Client Care Representative, Taylor Althouse, shared a heartwarming rescue story that truly changed her life.

I got the chance to care for Gracie during her temporary stay with us at the beginning of this year. While I get to meet and interact with lots of amazing animals in my position, I genuinely believe Gracie has, by far, had the greatest impact on me.

In January 2022, Humane Pennsylvania’s Berks Campus Shelter Manager Brandea Taylor re-introduced the concept of Pet-Projects. Each member of the Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving team chose a specific animal to dedicate time to every day, to provide comfort and enrichment during the animal’s stay at the shelter. Our facility had just received a new group of rescued dogs from Louisiana, so I decided to choose one of the new faces that had just flown in.

That’s how I met Gracie (previously called Joni).

After I passed the other wagging tails, I got to the last kennel and saw a trembling, chocolate Lab with the prettiest golden eyes staring back at me. I decided right then that I would do everything in my power to help this special girl.

My plan was to spend all my extra time trying to make her comfortable with me and gain her trust. This started with us standing on opposite sides of the kennel — and lots of treats. She slowly became comfortable enough to eat them, but only if I was not looking directly at her.

This was progress! I took this little leap in stride and upped the ante! I sat on my side of the kennel and offered Gracie small piece of hot dog. Gracie repeatedly looked back and forth, from the hot dog to me and back again. I turned my face away, with my hand still out. And a few seconds later, I felt a small, wet nose push against my hand and take the hot dog. I could not believe it!

Over the next few weeks, Gracie became more and more comfortable with me. I began sitting on her side of the kennel with her and taking her on walks outside. She went from slinking across the ground to standing fully and sniffing around.

Soon, she became so comfortable with me that she began nudging my hand for head rubs and giving me so many kisses that I’m sure my coworkers got tired of me bragging about it. I was just so proud and happy about her progress in such a short amount of time.

Gracie was on the adoption floor for most of her time at the shelter, but everyone who asked about her was disappointed that she was not the typical one-year-old Lab. She was essentially the exact opposite, just shaking in the back of her kennel.

I was still nervous about how she would do when she got her first adoption meet. When the day came, I warned the nice couple about how nervous Gracie was and I gave them her favorite treats to help ease her nerves.

We took Gracie into the play yard, where she immediately went to the corner and hid. The couple kept giving Gracie treats and calmly talking to her to coax her out of her shell, and she eventually gave in to their kind attempts.

As we discussed her progress, Gracie started crouching toward the couple, trying to sniff them. This was a huge moment for everyone involved. Throughout her time at the shelter, she would not voluntarily get close to anyone besides me, and it took what seemed like forever for us to get to that point.

The couple visiting Gracie had brought their dog Leo to meet her. Leo instantly wanted to be her friend, but Gracie sat frozen behind me. Although she was frightened, there were no signs of aggression from either of the dogs. And with the counsel of our Animal Care Coordinator, Katie Litz, the adopters decided to go through with the adoption!

I took the time I had left with Gracie to sit with her and tell her how awesome her new life was going to be. Her true personality was just locked up inside, and I was confident that her new family would help her be her authentic self.

Since Gracie’s adoption in February, we have received the most precious pictures and updates on her progress.

“When we got Gracie, she was incredibly shut down and would run away from us and hide any chance she got. She no longer hides and is often found roaming around, exploring the house while wagging her tail. Even more frequently, she can be found sitting on top of anyone who is willing to give her her favorite neck rubs. She has started giving us face kisses and smiles when she gets to run around outside. She’s such a good dog, and I’m so glad that you all believed in her and in us.” – Bryan and Alicia (Gracie’s adopters)

Stories like Gracie’s are why we do what we do. These animals leave an unforgettable impact on the people who experience them, and they provide all the motivation we need to continue to provide the care they deserve.

Being able to change a life by giving pets in our care the support they need and helping them find their perfect match is what our jobs (and mission) are all about, and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to help Gracie.

To rescue an animal like Gracie, please visit https://humanepa.org/adoption/.

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May Is National Chip Your Pet Month

May 16th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Animal Health | Healthy Pets | Healthy Pets Initiative | Humane Pennsylvania | Humane Veterinary Hospitals | Microchipping - (Comments Off on May Is National Chip Your Pet Month)
By: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer

Should you have your pet microchipped? Absolutely yes, no bones about it.

Microchips save lives! The majority of reunions that animal shelters facilitate between pets and their owners happen because the pets are microchipped and registered with up-to-date contact information.

You may not think your pet is at risk of becoming a stray, but what might happen if someone visiting your home would leave a window or door unsecured? There’s also a chance that a weather event or other accident could damage your home and cause a pet to stray.

Accidents happen. Microchipping is kind of an insurance policy

Also, you can save money by getting a lifetime license when a dog is microchipped and spayed or neutered.

What Is a Microchip?

A microchip is a transponder that works using radio waves when activated by a scanner that is waved over the animal. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin, above muscle, in the subcutaneous layer. It is implanted by medical professionals using a sterile hypodermic needle, similar to a vaccination. Once implanted, the microchip remains active for the rest of the animal’s life.

In dogs and cats, the microchip is usually placed in the area between the shoulder blades or on the animal’s upper back. It’s a good idea to have the pet scanned by a vet or animal hospital a month or two after implantation to ensure that the chip is still in and hasn’t migrated out of the implantation site.

How Does a Microchip Work?

Each microchip has a unique number, an ID number of sorts, that needs to be registered with the pet owner’s name, address, and phone number. It is important to ensure a chip is registered and information is kept up to date.

When a microchip scanner is hovered above an animal with a microchip, the unique microchip number appears on the scanner’s screen. A facility staff member can then contact the appropriate microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information. Every animal hospital and animal shelter has the ability to scan an animal to see if they have a microchip.

There are also tags that can be placed on pet collars to identify that an animal has a microchip. This is helpful if a dog or cat is found, as it indicates the pet has a home and a family that is eager for a reunion. The finder can call the microchip company and get the pet owner’s contact information, and then get that reunion started!

 Misconceptions About Microchips

A microchip is a GPS tracking device. This is not true. A microchip is not a GPS tracking device and will not provide any type of tracking whatsoever. A microchip provides a pet owner’s self-reported contact information.

Microchips are dangerous for animals. Microchips are, in fact, very safe. Millions upon millions of microchips have been implanted worldwide, with virtually no adverse reactions.

Microchipping your pet is expensive. There are no ongoing or recurring fees required for a microchip. Once a microchip is implanted and registered, it’s good for the animal’s life.

It typically it costs between $20 and $75 for microchip implantation and registration. However, at Humane Pennsylvania we think microchips are so important we will microchip and register any cat or dog for FREE!

How You Can Get Your Pet Microchipped

Our Humane Veterinary Hospitals in Reading and Lancaster can scan and implant a microchip at any regular appointment.

Or you can bring a pet to one of our Healthy Pets Initiative Clinics for a free microchip, needed vaccines (Rabies, DA2PP or FVRCP) and deworming, also at no cost to you.

For more information about our microchip and vaccination clinics, please visit https://humanepa.org/healthypets/upcomingclinicdates/.

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Prepare Your Pets For Natural Disasters

May 10th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Animal Rescue | Animal Welfare | Emergency Preparedness | Humane Pennsylvania | Natural Disasters - (Comments Off on Prepare Your Pets For Natural Disasters)
By: Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager, Alexandra Young

In 2005, I spent several months in Louisiana doing animal rescue and recovery work after Hurricane Katrina. Of the 250+ cats in our care at the Alley Cat Allies base camp in Bogalusa, LA during that time, only 11 pets were reunited with their owners. Although some progress has been made since then, human evacuation shelters do not automatically accept pets in the same areas where their owners are living (called co-sheltering).

In 2010, as a direct response to the outcomes of Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Citizen Corps declared May 8 as the National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day to raise awareness and encourage pet owners to actively plan for their pets’ safety long before a disaster strikes.

Why Being Prepared Is Important

Some thoughtful planning and a little research will go a long way when you find yourself and your beloved pets in an unexpected situation.

In our area of Pennsylvania, we don’t have to worry too much about natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. However, severe weather here can easily lead to flooding. And no matter where you live, you can be affected by a local water main break or power outages due to high winds and ice storms.

A more common scenario, and one that’s often overlooked, includes auto accidents. Dogs can easily be thrown from vehicles — especially if they’re smaller, sitting on your lap, or near an open window. A crate secured with a seatbelt is generally considered the safest method to transport a dog.

New safety products are always emerging, although few pet seatbelts/harnesses are actually crash tested. However, there are some products that have been independently reviewed that may increase the chances of your dog surviving a car accident. [1] [2]

Remember: Your pet will observe your behavior and mirror your energy — especially during an unusual, chaotic situation. The key to calmness is advanced preparation: Envision the difference between trying to corral your loose dog with…your bare hands, or maybe a belt, versus clipping a sturdy leash to his well-fitting collar! Taking the following steps now can significantly reduce everyone’s stress later, regardless of the scale of “disaster”.

How To Get Prepared

Get Ready

  • Pack a “go” bag of your pet’s essentials: medications, food and water for several days, extra collars, leashes, and/or harnesses, and a favorite toy/scent article. Pack a duplicate bag to keep in the car if you travel often with your pet, and be sure to rotate medications so they stay fresh.
  • Consider investing in a solar-powered battery pack for your phone, water treatment tablets, and a solar-powered weather/emergency radio. Pack these in your personal “go” bag with other human essentials.
  • Regularly incorporate positive association tasks with your pet so traveling and confinement (crates and carriers) are normal places for treats, toys, and relaxation.
  • Create a first aid kit that covers basic needs for both you and your pet in case of minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or other minor injuries. Large towels make great slings and can act as padding or absorbent material.

Be Current

  • Keep your pet’s vaccinations and microchip registration updated in case you need to board them or stay at a pet-friendly hotel. Pandemic schedules are still causing longer wait times for veterinary appointments, so don’t wait!
  • Ensure your vet’s records are easily accessible, both on your phone and as hard copies in your vehicle. Use a PVC pipe with threaded end caps to store hard copies that show yours and your pet’s veterinarian’s contact information, along with your pet’s most recent vaccination history and medical conditions.
  • Keep digital and hard copies of current photos of you with your pet in case you get separated. It’s especially important to show multiple views of markings on cats.

Stay Informed

  • Keep a list of local boarding kennels (preferably with veterinarians on-site), pet-friendly hotels, and the local animal shelter if they offer emergency services.
  • Research your county’s disaster response agencies and keep their contact information handy.
  • Confirm if any local agencies offer co-sheltering options during disaster evacuations.

Extend Your Family

  • Identify one or two trusted people who can access and care for your pet in case you are separated, injured, or otherwise unable to do so.

Humane Pennsylvania Maintains Disaster Preparedness

Humane Pennsylvania is home to the Berks County Animal Response Team (CART), which works directly with the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PSART) and serves as the primary Eastern Pennsylvania large-scale emergency distribution resource for pet food and supplies. We are gearing up to deploy emergency supplies for up to 1,500 animals.

We attend ongoing training with the Berks County Department of Emergency Services and coordinate with numerous other county agencies to prepare for a variety of disasters, including chemical spills, radiation contamination, and severe weather damage.

Our organization also supports families and their pets by offering temporary foster housing for needy pets in emergencies. PeNet has been recognized by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a “Government Innovation” program. Find more information on both of these programs and much more at humanepa.org.

 

[1] https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/collars-harnesses-leashes-muzzles/dog-car-harnesses-review/

[2] https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/small-dog-car-safety/

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Why We Walk For The Animals

May 4th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Why We Walk For The Animals)

For the last 44 years, Humane Pennsylvania has hosted the Walk for the Animals event with one goal: to continue building the best communities anywhere to be an animal or animal caretaker.

What started as a simple walk around the block for the Humane Society of Berks County has turned into one of the region’s oldest and largest events that directly support community members and their pets across Berks and Lancaster Counties, and beyond! Our Walk for the Animals attracts thousands of participants every year and is supported by local businesses, generous sponsors, animal lovers, and friends across the nation.

This year, we made one big change: we moved this year’s Walk date from the fall to the spring. After a long winter inside, we’re excited to see everyone shed their coats (no pun intended… okay, maybe a little) and enjoy the fresh spring air — all in the name of raising funds for animals in need! The date change has definitely presented its own challenges, but we are confident this switch will ensure the event’s long-term success.

Walkers like you help raise funds and awareness to improve the lives of abandoned, abused, and neglected animals and allow the organization to provide affordable, high-quality resources to animal caretakers in need of assistance with their loving pets.

In the last 10 years alone, the organization has raised over $1 million through this annual event! In those 10 years, Humane Pennsylvania has also become a leader in animal welfare and has paved the way with innovative approaches and programs, due in part to the funds raised from the Walk.

This year’s event, the 45th annual Performance Toyota Walk for the Animals, will be hosted at the beautiful Jim Dietrich Park in Muhlenberg Township.

The recently renovated park offers a spacious and inviting environment for family members and friends (two-legged and four) to roam around and enjoy the various festivities being held on the day of the Walk: a mile-long walk along the river, unique handcrafted goods from local vendors, a VIP beer and wine garden, live music by Dibbs & the Detonators, dog contests, and more!

During the planning of this year’s Walk for the Animals, Karen Linder, Charitable Giving Coordinator of presenting sponsor Performance Toyota, shared:

“Performance Toyota is excited to partner again with Humane Pennsylvania on their Walk for the Animals. Their cutting-edge approach to animal welfare in Berks and Lancaster Counties has a huge positive impact on the lives of animals and the caregivers who love them. We are proud to support Humane Pennsylvania’s courageous and compassionate dedication to providing lifesaving services to the animals in their care.”

This community-wide, family-friendly event is FREE and open to the public!

Join us on Saturday, May 7, 2022 at Jim Dietrich Park, located at 4899 Stoudts Ferry Bridge Road, Reading, PA 19605, for a fun-filled day supporting animals in our care and throughout the community.

There is no cost to attend the event and walk with your pups; however, registering as a participant allows us to raise more funds for animals in need.

Unable to Walk in person this year? Become a virtual walker! Visit https://bit.ly/45thAnnualWalkForTheAnimals and help Humane Pennsylvania make a difference today!

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