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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

News of the Week 03-29-15

The big news this week is that Richard Avanzino is stepping down as president of Maddie’s Fund in June. Avanzino is often called the father of No Kill. Individual No Kill shelters have been around since 1884, but Avanzino started the No Kill communities movement back in the 1970s and 1980s with his innovations at the San Francisco SPCA, which led to the historic Adoption Pact in 1994. He went to Maddie’s Fund in 1999. His retirement will mark the end of an era.

The Beagle Freedom Project is getting publicity for its efforts to get dogs used in scientific experiments out of laboratories and into homes, including a bill in Nevada requiring laboratories to put dogs up for adoption instead of killing them. Although the number of dogs used in labs is far smaller today than it used to be, there are still a significant number. Beagles are the most common “purpose-bred” dog used in experiments. Purpose-bred dogs rescued from laboratories are similar to puppy mill dogs in their lack of experience living in a home environment.

In transport news, large black dogs are going from Miami, where they are hard to adopt, to Iowa, where large dogs are in great demand. And Front Street in Sacramento is sending dogs by private plane to Idaho.

HSUS has a new page on its website that collects the science proving that breed-specific legislation is misguided. The page makes note of the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that breed not be considered in formulating dog-bite prevention policy. The CDC has more expertise and credibility than any other organization in the United States on matters of epidemiology, so their conclusion that dog breed is not a relevant factor in dog bites deserves serious attention. The HSUS page also quotes the American Veterinary Medical Association for the proposition that dog bite statistics “do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite,” citing factors such as the failure to correct those statistics for the relative population of each breed. In other BSL news, a bill has been introduced in the Michigan senate to ban BSL.

The Tree House Humane Society in Chicago will include a cat cafe with its new facility. It will be the first cat cafe in Chicago.

Madrid, the capital of Spain, has reportedly passed a bill making it illegal to kill stray animals in the city.

The Chester County SPCA, which serves Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania, says it has saved over 90% of its animals in each of the last four months. The shelter has just received a grant of $305,000 from PetSmart Charities to start a community-cat program that can help 4700 cats over the next 26 months.

Maddie’s Fund is presenting a 5-part series of free webcasts, with Q&A sessions, on the Million Cat Challenge. It’s on five Tuesdays, starting April 7 at 9 PM EST. The presenters include Wally Stem from Waco, a city which has been making amazing strides lately. He is a city-management expert who will talk about alternatives to impoundment. Barbara Carr and Kathie Johnson will speak on the crucial topic of managed admission. Scott Trebatoski, who managed the city shelter in Jacksonville as it transitioned to No Kill and is now the shelter director in Tampa, will speak on one of the newest ideas, return-to-field.

Kathleen Olsen and Ollie Davidson will speak about how to make big improvements in outcome by knowing your shelter’s capacity and how to manage it. Dr. Cynthia Delany and Kelly Lee will talk about removing barriers to adoption, including less-intrusive matchmaking.

The governor of Virginia has signed the bill modifying the state’s definition of “private animal shelter.” Supporters of the new law are hopeful that the change will force PETA to shut down its slaughterhouse “shelter.”

The voters in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, approved a measure last November to allow the county to borrow up to $3.79 million to build a new shelter. However, some county officials are now trying to derail the project, arguing that the proposed new shelter is too fancy. Lynchburg, Virginia’s new shelter is open. One of the features is an outdoor cat room which is “similar to a screened-in porch with pillowed benches.” Lynchburg is not far from Spotsylvania. Perhaps the Spotsylvania County officials could tour the new Lynchburg shelter and learn how proper housing is important for disease control and the mental health and ultimate successful placement of shelter animals.

We keep hearing that the state of Maine is No Kill, but the trouble is in finding stats. In this interview, the incoming director of a Maine shelter says that shelters in the state do not have to kill animals based on capacity. In fact, they import animals from out of state. He attributes the state’s success to its people, who take good care of their pets, and a tax on pet food that is used to provide low-cost spay-neuter services.


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