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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

News of the Week 04-05-15

Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans on August 29, 2005. The epic destruction that followed resulted in a revamping of US disaster preparedness, including big changes in how pets are treated by disaster relief agencies. In this article, Becky Robinson, the head of Alley Cat Allies, looks back at the changes in cat protection protocols in the decade since Katrina.

Update on the Irvine Animal Care Center in California: The Irvine shelter had a great reputation until last year, when charges surfaced that the shelter had deviated from its No Kill mission. Two managers have since resigned. A report on the shelter made by a veterinarian who trained at the UC Davis shelter medicine program is now in, and it recommends team decisions on euthanasia and changes to dog behavior evaluations. Further reports on other aspects of the shelter’s performance will be forthcoming.

This article has a look at the dismal state of things in several Louisiana and Arkansas shelters. The article highlights the fact that animal sheltering is still today, as it always has been in the United States, a system of haves and have-nots. It would be interesting to know how the cities featured in the article compare to more successful communities on metrics such as shelter funding, intake per thousand people, household income, education level, spay-neuter rates of owned pets, number of cats who have received TNR, etc.

The Million Cat Challenge booth at HSUS Expo this past week was very popular, and the Challenge signed up a lot of new members.

A new textbook – Animal Behavior for Shelter Veterinarians and Staff – will be released in June. One of the most controversial issues in No Kill sheltering right now is how to evaluate temperament in shelter animals, so this book fills a need. It is authored by three experts with the ASPCA. The book is mentioned in this report on the National Council on Pet Population’s second research symposium last year.

Researchers in North Carolina and Connecticut have devised a program to track outdoor cats. Science on outdoor cats is fraught with controversy over the extent to which domestic cats affect wildlife. The early results from the Cat Tracker study suggest that the answer could turn out to be – not much. The study has data on 100 cats so far, and the results are that most cats “stay close to home.” Many times when cats do wander they are visiting another home nearby rather than massacring wildlife.

Robin Starr, the CEO of the Richmond SPCA, spoke out strongly this past week on the occasion of the Virginia governor signing a bill redefining “private animal shelter” to clarify that the purpose of shelters is to adopt animals out to new homes. Speaking of the extraordinarily high kill rate at PETA’s “shelter,” Starr said that PETA’s argument that most of the animals it receives are old, sick, or injured is no excuse, since the Richmond SPCA receives such animals too, and it treats and rehabilitates them and finds them homes.

In transport news, the ASPCA has a program called the Nancy Silverman Rescue Ride which will transport 9000 cats and dogs from the southeast to the northeast over the next three years. The inaugural trip was in January, moving 11 dogs from South Carolina to Washington, DC.

Huntsville, Alabama, had a successful adoption event last Thursday as part of the North Shore Tour for Life event. Local No Kill activists have been urging the shelter to hold low-cost adoption events for years, so this is a step in the right direction. The shelter had only a 74% save rate last year, however, so it has a long way to go.

A free mobile training program in Jacksonville by Pit Sisters offers basic manners classes for dogs living in zip codes identified as having the highest numbers of owner surrenders. This blog post by Animal Farm Foundation, which awarded a grant for the program, has an interview with the founder of Pit Sisters.

Progress is reported at the Rowan County Animal Shelter. Rowan County is in a rural area northeast of Charlotte, North Carolina. It has about 138,000 residents and the shelter has a high intake. Transports are part of the shelter’s improvement.

Stealing of pet dogs for food has become a big problem in Vietnam, and owners are fighting back. This NBC News article describes a growing phenomenon of people in villages targeted by dog thieves banding together to fight them. In one case in 2012, it ended with 10 villagers being convicted of the murder of two dog thieves who were caught in the act. Since then at least 20 more dog thieves have been killed by people defending their dogs. The villagers argue that they have been forced to defend their dogs because the police do not take dog stealing seriously.

Scholarships for students who foster and help adopt out pets for a No Kill shelter – what could be better?

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