• Susan Houser

News of the Week 08-16-15

The Humane Alliance of Western North Carolina, located in Asheville, has provided low-cost spay-neuter in the area since 1994, and reports that it has sterilized 350,000 animals. The Humane Alliance has long been recognized as a national leader in high-volume spaying and neutering, and many veterinarians have trained in its techniques. Now comes word that the ASPCA has acquired the Humane Alliance. The ASPCA has supported the Humane Alliance in the past, and the new arrangement is expected to provide additional ASPCA funding.


Site plans for Brother Wolf’s future sanctuary in Asheville are on view today at the city’s VeganFest. In addition to being a leading city for No Kill, Asheville is also one of the most vegetarian- and vegan-friendly cities in the United States. Brother Wolf founder Denise Bitz believes that the vegan lifestyle shows a commitment to compassion for all animals.

The Weatherford/Parker County animal shelter in Weatherford, Texas, has announced that it has had a 90%+ save rate for the past year. The shelter participated yesterday in the national Clear the Shelters event.


Washington, DC’s cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, continues to get publicity on important mainstream news sites. It was featured in an article on Vox recently, and then a few days ago it was featured in an online article on the WTOP website. It is somewhat unusual for the DC press, which is generally full of political news, to take as much of an interest in a pet-related phenomenon as they have shown in Crumbs & Whiskers. The WTOP article reports that reservations for time with the kitties are in so much demand that they are hard to get on weekends, and even on week nights. The cats at Crumbs & Whiskers come from the Washington Humane Society, and they are fostered at the shop until they are adopted. In seven weeks, the cafe has adopted out 16 adult cats and a couple of kittens. That is a rate of about 135 cats per year, not to mention the publicity for the shelter.


The Animal Care Centers of New York City (formerly Animal Care and Control) are getting a new adoption partner. Best Friends will open an adoption center in the SoHo neighborhood in early 2016.


Broward County, Florida, commissioners will consider a measure on September 10 to amend county law to allow the release back into the community of sterilized feral cats (scroll down to “other action” in the link). This could be a big step in the right direction for Broward County’s flailing No Kill effort.


Here’s an article from someone who is concerned that the “crazy cat lady” stereotype may be hurting the adoption chances of cats. The stereotype is certainly offensive, but is it affecting adoption rates for cats? I tend to doubt it. The effect, if it exists at all, must be very small because I don’t recall it ever turning up in research on why people do or do not adopt.


The 2015 Veterinary Behavior Symposium, put on by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, was on July 10th this year, the day before the AVMA’s yearly convention. Steve Dale offers a brief look at some of the presentations at the symposium in this article. One of the presentations addressed how leashed dogs may interact differently in dog greetings than unleashed dogs, and how this may have a bad effect on some dogs’ social skills.


There has been a lot of interest lately in the health and behavior effects of spaying and neutering (see this roundable as one example), with studies suggesting that there may be both good and bad effects from the procedures. The discussions are especially pertinent to early-age sterilization. This is an important topic for animal shelters, as there is no way to guarantee that adoptive owners will sterilize their pets if it is not done before the pet leaves the shelter. And before pediatric sterilization became accepted in the 1990s, shelters were sometimes reluctant to adopt out puppies and kittens less than 6 months of age (the traditional minimum age for sterilization surgery) because so few adopters followed up on sterilization, even when it was free. So shelters have a big stake in pediatric sterilization. A 2014 study provides some favorable news for early-age sterilization, finding that cats did not show behavior differences based on whether they were sterilized early or at 6 months. Follow up was for 2 years.


There has been renewed interest in chemical sterilization in recent years, driven mostly by the expense and invasiveness of traditional surgical sterilization, but also to some extent by concern with the side effects of surgery. This article in Cat Watch provides a summary of where we are with alternatives to the traditional surgical methods of sterilization.


Animal shelters and rescues transport animals all the time, and at last we have a study on the safety of crates and carriers in accidents. The bad news is that most of the crates and carriers tested failed to meet the successful-outcome standard for the test. The good news is that some did. More good news is that standardized tests like this will no doubt encourage manufacturers to make safer crates and carriers in the future.

The Animal Compassion Team (ACT), a No Kill group in Fresno County, California, that currently runs a No Kill shelter, is expected to be approved soon to take over the contract for animal control and sheltering for the county. Brenda Mitchell, who is the director of ACT, says that achieving No Kill for the county will not happen overnight, but she is optimistic for the future. The county badly needs a new shelter, and a county supervisor says one may be constructed within two years.


Animal Rescue Rhode Island is helping to make a South Carolina shelter No Kill with its Bark and Ride transportation program. Since the program started it has saved over 700 dogs.


Canine flu (H3N2 variety) has appeared in Atlanta. Vaccines against the flu are being developed. The appearance of the H3N2 virus, which is thought to have originated in Asia, stimulated this article about dog importation in the Clinician’s Brief. The author of the article appears to be unaware that the number of homeless dogs in the United States is rapidly coming into balance with the number of homes available. Even so, the article is a timely reminder that, if rescuers are going to increase importation of homeless dogs from other countries in the future (as I believe we should), we need to pay very careful attention to quarantine and vaccinations to make sure that imported dogs do not pose a health risk to dogs in the United States.


A New Jersey shelter that had its water cut off asked the community for help and the community literally lined up to answer the call. Problem solved.

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