• Susan Houser

News of the Week 07-26-15

The headline this week is that the Million Cat Challenge hit 250,000 cats saved under their program – 1/4th of the way to their goal of saving 1 million cats. Since it’s a five-year goal, they are looking very good to hit the goal early. The way it works is this. When a participating shelter signs up, their progress is measured against the baseline year (2012) by the greater of two numbers – reduction in cat euthanasia or increase in cat live releases. By having the alternatives, a shelter can get credit for for pet retention or diverting cats to TNR or RTF programs, as well as for increasing adoptions. The program has Five Key Initiatives, and a shelter can choose which ones it wants to implement. The Million Cat Challenge now has 263 participating shelters. That’s pretty good for only a little more than 6 months in existence. There is a lot more going on from this effort than can be gleaned from just looking at the website. Many large jurisdictions in the country (and in Canada) have started to implement the ideas behind the five initiatives. These concepts were considered revolutionary when some of them were endorsed in the California draft whitepaper less than two years ago, but they have rapidly been accepted and supported by the leadership of the shelter industry and are well on their way to becoming mainstream. It’s very possible, in my opinion, that in the 4+ years remaining in the Challenge, we will see not just 1 million, but all healthy and treatable shelter cats saved by these methods.


The cat cafe phenomenon hit a new high this past week with an article on Vox about the DC cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers. For DC residents and many people in other parts of the country Vox is a must-read, so this is great publicity.


A related idea to cat cafes is to get cats into workplaces, as with Seattle’s popular Kitty Hall program. The Humane Society of Broward County in Florida has rolled out a program called Office Cats that sends adoptable cats and their luggage to small businesses in the area.


Neighborhood Cats is offering a “see-through” rear release door for cat traps, for those wily ferals who say “no thank you” to regular traps.


The ASPCA Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference is being held from July 31 to August 2 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Dr Stephanie Janeczko, one of the presenters, has tips for transporters, including the critically important health requirements you need to know before taking transport animals across state lines.

Baton Rouge has been struggling to go No Kill since 2011. The early efforts were not as successful as people had hoped, but the community kept at it and progress has been made. Now the Companion Animal Alliance (CAA), which runs the city shelter, has announced that a state-of-the-art new shelter building will have its groundbreaking next year. The new shelter will be located on land leased to CAA by Louisiana State University, near the LSU veterinary school. The architectural firm that was selected to design the shelter visited Portland, Oregon, to get ideas for the new building, and CAA officials have visited other shelters as well. The cost for the new building will not be known until the design is finished, but the fundraising campaign is scheduled to begin this fall.


The Waco, Texas, effort to go No Kill has been very successful so far (the city shelter is running at an 88% live release rate for 2015), and now the shelter building is getting a $2.5 million makeover. The city has supplied $1 million of the cost and the rest has been raised by private donations. Since this is a renovation and rebuilding on the site of the current shelter, officials will have to accommodate the animals currently in residence and coming in the door, in spite of temporarily reduced space. The shelter is asking for fosters to help tide it over during the renovation. The new building will be set up for better animal care and disease prevention and will also have a new adoption center, a veterinary clinic, and play areas.


Maddie’s Fund’s essential blog, Chew On This, has been relocated. The Maddie’s blog may be the single most useful blog going for people who are actually running shelters and want practical, professional guidance they can use.


Speaking of Maddie’s Fund, it has now made 2013 statistics available for the shelters that report to it under the Asilomar Accords format. The data is in the form of a comparative database.


Here is a nice feature about Colorado Animal Rescue and the Aspen Animal Shelter, two of Colorado’s many No Kill shelters.


Steve Dale raises the interesting question of whether the veterinarian who allegedly shot a defenseless cat in the head with an arrow in Texas would have been indicted for animal cruelty if it had been a puppy that was killed instead of a cat.


Delaware state and local officials are rallying and discussing how to handle animal control and sheltering after the First State Animal Center and SPCA dropped a bombshell last week with their announcement that they are getting out of their contracts in September. The contracts cover animal control and sheltering for all three of the state’s counties and the city of Wilmington. First State made the decision to end its contracts early because it was concerned that its employees, who have been looking for other jobs since the state announced its intention to take over animal control, would resign and leave it without enough staff to service the contracts.

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