National Pet Parents Day

April 20th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on National Pet Parents Day)
By Ronai Rivera, Humane Pennsylvania Media Coordinator, and Chelsea Cappellano, Donor Relations Manager

April 24 is National Pet Parents Day! To celebrate, we asked our Media Coordinator, Ronai Rivera, and Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano, what they love about being pet parents.

Ronai & Athena:

National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that’s very special to me. Truly, one of my greatest joys in life is being a dog mom to Athena, my 6-year-old American Staffordshire mix. Every day is a mini adventure, and I’m always looking forward to what she can teach me.

Athena found me in January 2016, when I was searching for the perfect pup to call my own. I had grown up with lots of animals and, as I was living alone across the country, I felt it would be the perfect time to find a companion to share my life with. A family friend mentioned they had a puppy that they loved but could no longer care for. I immediately went to meet Athena, and I fell in love with her instantly.

Every day since has been filled with so much love and many life lessons. From understanding her communication style to educating myself about her environmental allergies, and the everyday experiences that come along with being a dog parent, it’s safe to say that no dog-day is the same — and every day is very much worth it.

Athena has seen me through many life experiences and, every time, she gave me a shoulder to lean on (literally, she would just come up by me and sit). She has traveled across the U.S. with me and explored many parts of different states — waggin’ her tail happily along the way.

Athena is, in my own dog mom opinion, a very unique pup with many fun(ny) characteristics to love. Some of Athena’s great loves include:

  • Dressing up (yes, I’m serious!)
  • Swimming
  • Eating (of course)
  • Attention (and lots of it!)
  • Cuddling (she thinks she’s a teacup pup)
  • Playing with her best friends Lola (dog) and Aliyah (human)

Athena is certainly a character all her own. She is so full of love and life, and she brightens the day of everyone she comes across. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how thankful I am to share my life with my pawsome pup.

Thank you, Athena, for choosing me to be your dog mom!

Chelsea & Fur-riends:

As a pet parent to many furry and feathery creatures, National Pet Parents Day is a holiday that hits very close to home for me. There were always animals in our house when I was growing up, and I knew that when I had the opportunity to have my own space, I would always have an animal companion by my side.

I very much exceeded that expectation and desire for my life. Our home sits on a lot of land, and our family currently includes dogs, cats, and chickens, and goats are coming soon!. Like people, each animal in our household has their own personality.

The dogs:

  • Zea: 3-year-old female Belgian Malinois. Full-time Police K9. Off the clock, she is a complete goofball and squeaker-ball lover. When she wants to snuggle, she must be touching one of her humans.
  • Duke: 2-year-old male American Pitbull Terrier mix. Definite mama’s boy. Usually, he is a couch potato, but he occasionally gets bursts of energy and wants nothing more than to play.
  • Kuma: 6-year-old male Shib Inu. Enjoys playtime with his fur siblings, but is always trying to plan his next great escape.

The cats:

  • Reuben: 8-year-old male orange tabby. Super affectionate and loves lap cuddles.
  • Bronson: 8-year-old male white and orange tabby. Very vocal and craves human attention. Prefers his feline friends over canine friends.
  • Paw Newman: 8-year-old male orange tabby. A little more independent, but loves feeding time.
  • Milo: 8-year-old male white and brown tabby. Friendly, but prefers to be the big man in charge.
  • Luna: 8-year-old female tortoiseshell. The only female feline, she holds her own through her sass. More independent than not, but appreciates occasional pets and playtime.

The chickens:

  • The chickens are a bit more independent, but occasionally allow us to stroke their feathers. They absolutely love spending their time free-roaming. Burrowing, digging around in the dirt, and eating fun snacks are a few of their favorite activities while exploring the yard.

The goats:

  • While we’re still trying to come up with their names, these kids will be the newest addition to our little farm! They are Nigerian Dwarfs and tend to be very lovable and gentle in nature.

The passion and love animals have to offer is something I hope everyone gets to experience. It is a feeling of fulfillment that I can’t even begin to explain. I am so thankful I get to experience it every day through all breeds, shapes, and sizes.

Make one of the pawsome animals in our care yours by visiting humanepa.org.

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Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs

April 12th, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Animal Health | Healthy Pets | Heartworm in Dogs | Heartworm Prevention | Humane Veterinary Hospitals - (Comments Off on Preventing Heartworm Disease In Dogs)
By Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Humane Pennsylvania Chief Veterinary Officer

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month! To make sure all dogs are protected from this serious disease, Dr. Simoneau has provided some valuable information for you and your pets.

A pervasive, serious medical condition, heartworm disease affects more than 1 million dogs in the U.S. every year. The disease can cause irreparable organ damage, but it can be both treated and prevented. Cats and ferrets may also be affected by heartworms, but usually not to the same extent as dogs.

What Causes Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is caused by an internal blood parasite, Dirofilaria immitis. Adult heartworms produce a pre-larval stage of the parasite, called microfilaria, which is passed from one dog to another by mosquitos.

How Does Heartworm Disease Spread and Develop?

In geographic areas where mosquitos thrive year-round, heartworm disease remains endemic. Heartworms are diagnosed nationwide, but the Southeastern states harbor mosquitos that carry heartworm. Dogs are frequently taken from the south to the northeast, and people take their pets on vacation.

When a mosquito has a blood meal from a dog that has adult heartworms, the microfilaria is taken in by the mosquito and undergoes transformation to a larval stage, which can now be a source of infection for another dog. This larval stage parasite is injected from the mosquito to another dog with the next blood meal the mosquito takes.

Inside the canine host, the larval stage parasite matures into the adult stage. If not prevented by medication, the worms continue developing. As the parasite molts in the dog, it migrates through its tissue and travels into the bloodstream. The parasite finds the heart and blood vessels to the lungs, where it stays permanently lodged and is now a mature adult. The process from the larval stage to the adult stage takes about 7 months, and adult heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years.

Untreated heartworm disease results in congestive heart failure in the dog. However, the heartworm infection causes scar tissue and severe inflammation to develop even before the end-stage disease. These effects can occur as early as 7 to 12 months after a dog is bitten by an infective mosquito.

How Can Heartworms Be Prevented?

The larval stages are susceptible to medication known as heartworm preventative, which kills them and prevents them from developing into adult worms. Heartworm preventatives work to kill the heartworm larva in the dog’s tissues the day they are given. The aim is to prevent the current infection from advancing, i.e., prevent the parasite larva from developing into adults.

Heartworm preventatives do not have lasting effects, however. They clear larval heartworm infections once every 30 days. As such, they must be administered to the dog every 30 days.

It is recommended to work with a vet to get a dog on a testing schedule and give medication that kills the larval stage of the heartworm before it has the chance to mature into an adult worm and cause excessive damage.

Screening tests look for antigens that are produced by adult female heartworms. The heartworm doesn’t make the antigen the test is looking for until the heartworm is mature, and maturity occurs 7 months after an infective mosquito transmits the larval stage of heartworm via a blood meal. This is why puppies don’t need a heartworm test to start the medication that kills the larval stage.

There is no way of knowing if immature worms exist, so testing is recommended 4 to 7 months after exposure. In young dogs at higher risk, testing twice in the first year is recommended. For adult dogs that are given year-round heartworm preventative monthly, or for other lower-risk patients that are given the preventative yearly, testing is often the recommendation.

How Is Heartworm Disease in Dogs Treated?

Once a dog is diagnosed with adult heartworms, the treatment is a year-long process. A series of oral and injectable medications are administered under the observation and guidance of a veterinarian, and stringent exercise restriction is necessary for many months.

Once the active infection is cleared, the dead adult heartworms continue to break down and be removed by the dog’s body. Scar tissue will always remain in the dog’s lung vessels and heart.

The Bottom Line

This internal blood parasite has life-threatening consequences for dogs — and those who consider them to be a family member — and it is prevalent in the United States. Heartworm disease in dogs is much easier to prevent than treat, so it is imperative to work with a veterinarian to develop a heartworm prevention plan specific to your dog to keep them healthy and happy.

Schedule an appointment and develop a heartworm prevention plan by visiting https://hvhospitals.org/contact-us/!

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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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Why Rabbits Make Great Pets!

February 2nd, 2022 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Why Rabbits Make Great Pets!)
By: Laura Gibbs, Humane Pennsylvania Customer Care Representative

February is National Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month. At Humane Pennsylvania, we’re excited to shine the spotlight on these fuzzy little friends!

Rabbits have been in our lives since the 5th century, when these adorable creatures won the hearts of humans and were domesticated to be pets. Did you know rabbits are currently the second-most popular pet, after goldfish? And according to insider.com*, other than cats and dogs, rabbits are one of the most popular pets in the U.S. — second only to goldfish. It’s no wonder these critters get a whole month dedicated to finding their forever homes.

Aside from cats and dogs, rabbits are the animal we most see being surrendered. And they’re typically surrendered for the same reasons — a lack of space, the children lost interest in them, or they’re too much work.

I had rabbits when I was growing up. They had a hutch outside, and to be honest, I didn’t do much with them. And I never saw myself as a rabbit person. Until recently, that is. I am now getting close to the end of my adventure with a mama rabbit who had been abandoned. When I brought her into my home, I ended up being blessed with a total of seven very happy bunnies, each of which changed my outlook on rabbits.

Mama bun and her babies’ daddy were abandoned at the end of October. I took mom home for a pregnancy watch and, sure enough, a couple weeks later she gave birth to six healthy buns. I still have mom at home while waiting to get her spayed, but the babies are back and ready for adoption!

In my opinion, rabbits are the perfect blend of cat and dog — in a truly awesome, cuddly package. These small creatures bond with their people, just like cats and dogs do. And they love playing with toys. Chew toys, batting toys, hanging toys, crinkly toys, puzzle toys, cardboard boxes, things they can jump on or climb onto or dig in — all are AMAZING in the eyes of a bun. You can teach them anything you can teach a dog: sit, stay, jumping through hoops, jump up, etc. There’s simply no end to what you can fill their little heads with.

The big thing to remember when bringing home a bun is space. Rabbits’ personalities flourish when they’re allowed to free roam in a rabbit-proofed room or area, or even the whole house. When they’re able to free roam, they have plenty of space to be as happy as they can be. And rabbits do a special little thing all their own when they’re happy — it’s called binkying.

Basically, binkying is a bunny happy dance where they jump up and twist around in the air, sometimes in both directions, before they land. Imagine being so incredibly happy that the only thing you can do is jump as high as you can and wiggle your entire body while in the air — which can be more than a little challenging to do in a cramped rabbit cage. If you’ve never seen a rabbit binky, you are missing out on one of life’s most adorable animal-related activities.

Now, I know you are probably thinking, “But what about all the poop? I can’t have a rabbit free roam with all that poop!” There’s a very simple solution. Remember I mentioned all those super cool things you can teach your bunny? Well, one of those things is litter training! That’s right, you can teach your bun to use a litterbox just like you would a feline friend. Amazing, right?

And with plenty of toys and encouragement, you can even teach your bun what is and isn’t appropriate to chew on. Like I said, they’re the perfect blend of cat and dog.

You do have to keep in mind, however, that owning a rabbit (just like any other pet) isn’t always all fun and games. You need to be prepared for the inevitable vet bills, and establishing a relationship with an exotics vet will ease some of your worries if an emergency should one day occur.

Rabbits should also be spayed or neutered, even if you plan on only housing one bunny. There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your rabbit, which makes it almost silly not to. Like cats, rabbits tend to spray when they are not sterilized, and unaltered rabbits can be a little testy. Altered rabbits are less destructive (with chewing and digging), and female rabbits that aren’t spayed have an 85% chance of developing reproductive cancers. Rabbits can live up to 10 years, and wouldn’t you want your bun to live as happily and be as healthy as they can?

I hope I’ve convinced you that rabbits are pretty amazing creatures and make wonderful pets. Both Humane Pennsylvania adoption centers are almost always overflowing with buns, so be sure to skip the pet store and celebrate Adopt a Rabbit month with us!

To adopt a shelter critter today, please visit humanepa.org!

*SOURCE: https://www.insider.com/most-popular-pets-in-the-us-2018-7#poultry-is-a-very-popular-choice-4

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Humane Pennsylvania 2021 Year in Review: Muscle Memory

December 31st, 2021 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Humane Pennsylvania 2021 Year in Review: Muscle Memory)
Written by: Humane Pennsylvania CEO & President, Karel Minor

In the interest of full disclosure, I must share that this is a complete rewrite of my first draft of this blog post. After I completed writing the initial version and read it, all I could think was, “Good Lord, what a depressing and miserable update!”

I’d shared many incredible accomplishments, but it had come out in a woeful, beaten-down tone rather than an upbeat one. I realized at that moment that my writing had been affected by the muscle memory of working under COVID conditions for nearly two years. For almost two years, everything that could go wrong seemed to do so.

There was constant uncertainty. And even when things worked out, it felt like more of a struggle than it should, and we all just got worn down and tired. I suppose it makes sense that after working and living like that, even great news could come out like Eeyore’s shopping list. Even now, my weary self wants to groan, “Oh. My. Gawd. Now it’s freaking Omicron?”

The thing is, we had some great news and accomplished some remarkable things this past year. So it’s time to shake those muscles loose and take a second swing at this. This time I want to express the enthusiasm, gratitude, and joy my heart and mind feel for all the positive outcomes we’ve experienced this year.

COVID: Okay, so there was COVID — and it has been awful for us, along with the rest of the world. However, our staff, volunteers, and supporters came through like champs. We started getting our staff vaccinated as early as last March, which allowed us to open back up sooner and more safely than most places. Our team handled the ever-changing protocols and rules imposed on us with grace and understanding. Through hard work (and some good luck), I am proud to be able to say that none of our staff faced layoffs. They worked hard, and even when they (and I!) contracted COVID, we recuperated and got back to work helping animals and people.

During the past year, we distributed about a quarter-million pounds of food and supplies via HPA’s Spike’s Pet Food Pantry, through our partner organizations, and as the organization tapped by the PA State Animal Response Team to coordinate pandemic pet food distribution. That’s on top of nearly three-quarters of a million pounds the prior year.  Thanks to a second-round PPP grant, we were able to make up financial shortfalls that resulted from our inability to hold regular fundraising events. COVID has undoubtedly proved to be pretty crummy, but all our folks stepped up to help others, even as they had to cope with the pandemic personally. I could not be prouder of our entire team.

The Freedom Center Opens: Filed under “Better Late Than Never,” after a construction delay that lasted more than nine months due to COVID, HPA’s brand spanking new Freedom Center for Animal Life-Saving finally opened to the public in July! Named by an anonymous donor who wanted the name to reflect his belief in the concept of freedom for animals and people, it’s more than just a better version of our old Reading shelter.

The Freedom Center offers upgraded traditional sheltering and adoption spaces to allow us to help more animals than ever before. And those conventional programs are merged and intertwined into medical, counseling, and education spaces that support HPA’s Healthy Pets Initiative. Healthy Pets aims to give everyone the support they need to be great caretakers, from accessible and affordable veterinary care to a wide range of pet-and-people-first programs that keep pets at home. If you haven’t visited the Freedom Center, it’s worth the trip!

We are grateful for all the folks who supported this project at all financial levels, from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. COVID put the brakes on our campaign halfway through, but supporters have been steadily contributing to Spike’s 700 and Tilly’s 200 Giving Clubs to make up for lost time. We hope you will, too!

Neighborhood Clinics: COVID made it more challenging, but it didn’t stop us from going into neighborhoods to connect with pets directly and provide critical vaccines, microchip identification, and other vital healthcare services. Our specially trained teams of staff and volunteer veterinarians, technicians, and assistants provided services week in and week out to thousands of people in 2021. We partnered with the Animal Rescue League to share data to allow us to map parvo outbreaks in Reading and then work together at community clinics held at Amanda E. Stout Elementary School. This partnership let us help more than we could have alone, and the data sharing allowed us to deliver that help where it was needed most.

Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinics: One of the most exciting aspects of the Healthy Pets Initiative and the Freedom Center is opening one of the nation’s first “walk-in” vet clinics. Sponsored by Jay Rosenson in memory of Elaine Rosenson, the clinic began providing service hours to the community in 2021. It expects to open full time once veterinary staff is entirely in place. Modeled on human quick-clinics, which offer limited services at a lower cost with faster access, the Healthy Pets Walk-In Clinic fills the gap between our neighborhood clinics and our public Humane Veterinary Hospitals.

Best of Berks Veterinary Hospital: Speaking of Humane Veterinary Hospitals Reading (HVH Reading), we are excited and proud to have been named Best of Berks Veterinary Hospital by Berks County Living readers this year! While it may have been a far-off goal when we first opened for public veterinary services in our cramped quarters of the old Berks Humane Scholar Center shelter in 2006, it’s lovely to have it become a reality. Both HVH Reading and Lancaster are American Animal Hospital accredited and open to the public. Our hospitals were the first non-profit hospitals in Pennsylvania to achieve accreditation — and among fewer than 30 in the country. Less than 15% of the 36,000 for-profit vet practices are accredited.

With the motto “For pets, not for profit,” our little shelter-that-could has led the nation in recognizing the barriers to access to vet care for large portions of our communities and then finding ways to deliver affordable, high-quality care sustainably. I was recently one of only about 50 people nationwide to participate in an ASPCA “Access to Care” Conference, which sought to find ways to expand access and remove barriers to vet care. It’s an exciting effort, and HPA is a recognized national leader and voice in this vital work. If you aren’t already a client of one of our two public hospitals, check us out.

If you are a veterinarian or a veterinary tech, we’re hiring! You can join a practice that offers all the benefits and support of a “gold-standard” practice, and also lets you help animals and people and practice medicine like a vet — not according to a corporate checklist. You don’t know what you don’t know about Humane Veterinary Hospitals, so find out more today!

Back to Normal? Yes, please! We aren’t quite back to normal, but it’s great to be getting closer. We were able to hold our Walk for the Animals this year, and we’re psyched to be hosting it next year in its new springtime slot on Saturday, May 7! Despite much concern going into it, our Art for Arf’s Sake Auction was held in its new autumn time slot this past November and raised over $100,000 for the animals — our best performance in several years! While raising critical funds is pretty cool, we’ve missed connecting with our friends and supporters in real life. We are all looking forward to seeing your smiling, happy faces next year.

It’s too late to keep this short, but it would get too long if I thanked everyone who deserves it. So many people and businesses stepped up to help Humane Pennsylvania get through this tough year. With their help, we didn’t have to pull back. We leaned into the need in our community. Thank you. Thanks to everyone out there who helped us help animals and the people who love them.

I can’t wait to see what next year brings — I mean, it can’t be worse than the last couple, right? I know better days are ahead, but I still got to do some pretty incredible work in the days behind us.

All right, this is way better than my first draft. I need to keep exercising those positivity and optimism muscles, and everyone else does, too. Let’s get back to being happy and being together!

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Give Back This #GivingTuesday!

November 19th, 2021 | Posted by Ronai Rivera in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Give Back This #GivingTuesday!)
By: Chelsea Cappellano, Humane Pennsylvania Events & Donor Relations Manager

Giving Tuesday isn’t just an average day, it’s a day that encourages people to do good. This #GivingTuesday, I invite you to do good and unleash your generosity by becoming a monthly donor!

Monthly contributions provide Humane Pennsylvania with an ongoing, reliable source of funding. These donations enable us to have a consistent stream of financial support, which helps care for the animals in our shelters and in our community. Donation levels start as low as $10, and each level offers exclusive Humane Pennsylvania perks and swag. When you sign up to be a monthly donor (this #GivingTuesday), you will also receive a complimentary thank you gift in addition to your Humane Pennsylvania welcome packet.

If you are unable to donate monthly but still want to make a difference in the life of an animal in need, making a one-time gift this #GivingTuesday is another great option! One-time donations help Humane Pennsylvania continue to build the best community anywhere to be an animal. Contributions can be designated by location or made in memory or honor a loved one, family member, friend, or pet. No donation amount is too big or too small. All of our funding comes from direct charitable gifts made by supporters, like YOU!

Simply put, your gifts save lives.

Sign up today by visiting https://support.humanepa.org/monthly-giving/ or contact our Events & Donor Relations Manager, Chelsea Cappellano, at ccappellano@humanepa.org or (610) 750-6100 ext. 299.

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Written by: Humane Pennsylvania Community Outreach Programs Manager, Alexandra Young

October 16 is National Feral Cat Day! Since I met my first feral cat over 20 years ago, almost every day has been a celebration of National Feral Cat Day for me. Luke was a 4-month-old feral kitten that was basically kit-napped from his familiar outdoor home as part of a grassroots effort to save his litter. Half a year later, he was still terrified of humans. He had no potential adopters, and he no longer had a safe outdoor home. He was really miserable — as were his caretakers.

Luke’s case alerted me to the plight of feral cats and the consequences when good intentions fail. Many outdoor “friendlies” can backslide after being adopted as an indoor pet when their familiar routine and environment disappear. Common pitfalls of failed rescue attempts are:

 

  • Litter box avoidance (indoors or outside)
  • Repeated escape attempts (or finally succeeding)
  • Aggression or shutting down

Stray or Feral?

“Stray” cats usually refer to those that enjoy physical contact with us and know how to ask for food and attention. One may think the cheek rubs, belly rolls and purrs mean “Please save me!” but this may not be what the cat truly wants or needs. Strays are often lost or abandoned pets, but they may also be indoor/outdoor unsupervised pets.

A “feral” cat runs when approached and deliberately avoids interaction with people. They have had little or no exposure to human contact or confinement, and they will attack if they can’t escape when cornered or handled. They’re often born outside as descendants of multiple generations of ferals.

Many factors influence a cat’s behavior at any given moment, and without a complete history calling one stray or feral becomes subjective. Regardless of its label, there is a way to control the population that respects cats’ nature and virtually eliminates kit-napping scenarios. It’s called TNR, otherwise known as Trap-Neuter-Return.

TNR’d cats are humanely captured, surgically sterilized, vaccinated against rabies and ear-tipped (one-third of an ear cut straight across) before being released back to their original outdoor “home.” Ear tips are universal symbols that a cat:

  • Can’t reproduce
  • Is rabies vaccinated
  • Likely has a feeder (or a few!)
  • Is at “home” and should be left alone unless obviously sick or injured

Kittens as young as 2 months old can be safely sterilized by a trained veterinarian. Early sterilization is critical, because a kitten can have her first litter at 6 months old. Many ear-tipped cats are also microchipped so they can be returned home just like your own family pet. Although cats are instinctively solitary, TNR’d cats often live in groups (called colonies) to share resources. Scientifically proven* benefits of TNR include:

  • Reduces complaint-inducing behaviors, including fighting, spraying, and breeding
  • Stabilizes population
  • Frees up valuable shelter/rescue resources to needy pets
  • Promotes peaceful coexistence
  • Advocates humane treatment of all animals
  • Avoids needless euthanasia

Returning sterilized cats to areas where other cats live may seem counterintuitive. However, due to the vacuum effect, new cats move into voids created by the removal of existing cats to take advantage of food, water and shelter. On the other hand, the practice of trapping, removing and killing cats often results in increases in free-roaming cat populations.

Humane Pennsylvania, through its Healthy Pets Initiative, offers the following services to assist you with free-roaming cats:

  • Bottle Baby Kitten Kits
  • Low-cost or free TNR surgeries for free-roaming cats
  • “Pay-what-you-can” neighborhood vaccine and microchip clinics
  • Free cat food to community cat caregivers through Spike’s Pet Pantry
  • Free winter cat shelters made by volunteers
  • Community cat and TNR guidance and advice

Be the Change

Humane Pennsylvania is building the best community anywhere to be an animal — including a community cat. And every person can be a part of the solution. Here’s how you can help:

  • Become a foster parent for kittens, either on your own or through Humane Pennsylvania
  • Volunteer to distribute pet food, make cat shelters or help at vaccine clinics
  • If your municipality offers TNR services, thank your council and use the services!
  • Attend council meetings and encourage elected officials to support TNR, offer a trap loan program or set aside funding to subsidize TNR surgeries
  • Donate to Humane Pennsylvania to support our community cat programs

By working together as a community, we can improve the lives of free-roaming cats and the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Using the right approaches, we can save lives, decrease problems associated with unsupported community cats and have healthier, happier communities!

* Resources for scientifically validated benefits of TNR:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12523478/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26799109/

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