One of our favorite stories of the year belongs to Joy, a young cat who was saved from the streets of New York City during Hurricane Sandy. Our staff at the temporary shelter we set up for storm-displaced animals wasn’t sure if she was a homeless kitty or a lost pet. Weeks passed and no one claimed the skinny, skittish feline.
We folded Joy into our regular population of adoptable animals and discovered she needed extra help learning to trust people. With lots of socialization from ASPCA staff, Joy came out of her shell—but a whole year passed and Joy, our last Sandy cat, still hadn’t found a home.
Finally, in November 2013, Joy was adopted by Rob C., a fellow Sandy survivor who lost his home and business to the deadly storm. Robert saw Joy on the local news—her story resonated with him, and together they are getting a fresh start and making a new life.
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed new guidelines designed to curb the rampant over- and misuse of antibiotics on factory farms: 80 percent of all antibiotics bought in the United States are purchased to give to farm animals, primarily to speed their growth and prevent illnesses that would otherwise spread like wildfire in their unsanitary, crowded conditions. Daily doses of drugs are propping up an inhumane factory farming system and contributing to growing antibiotic resistance among humans, threatening people’s lives as well.
The FDA now acknowledges that antibiotics should not be used to make animals grow faster, which is important, but the new guidelines are voluntary and the same drugs can still be used for “prevention” of illness. Factory farms wouldn’t need to prevent disease so much if the animals were kept in better conditions. But pharmaceutical and agricultural industries have an economic interest in producing as much product, as cheaply as possible, often at the expense of animal welfare, and routine doses of antibiotics are perpetuating this sick system.
As an example, most of today’s chickens raised for meat spend their lives in giant, windowless sheds where they have less than 1 square foot of space each by the time they are full grown. Breeding for disproportionately large breasts and excessive body weight means they struggle to stand or move. Essentially immobilized in their own waste, chickens raised on factory farms could be at higher risk of carrying Salmonella and other foodborne illnesses. Antibiotics stand in for these birds’ compromised immune systems and allow the meat industry to continue to cut corners dangerously. Farm animals and consumers alike need stronger action from the FDA.
Avril is a sweet and sensitive cat who likes to take things slowly. She can be fairly shy, but with space of her own and plenty of time to adjust, she’ll come out of her shell. Once she feels relaxed, she’d like to have you pet her cheeks and head.
This special cat has asthma, which causes occasional flare-ups that require veterinary care. Our Adoptions team can talk to you more about Avril’s health needs. Avril would do best in a home without other cats and with children 12-and-up. Adopt Avril today!
Avrilis available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting please call our Adoptions department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Avril, please visit her page.
Want to stay updated on the ASPCA Pet of the Week?
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, ASPCA News Alert - you'll receive important updates on what's going on and how you can make an impact to save animals' lives!
Though Black Friday is typically reserved for malls, crowds and sales, the ASPCA turned it into something new: Cat Friday. Yes, you read that right! With free adoptions and reduced fees, this purrfect promotion led to 43 adoptions. One of those cats was Finnick:
Steven S. showed up to Cat Friday and spotted Finnick immediately. The feisty Finn must have sensed that he had found his future dad because he literally leapt out of the cage and into Steven’s arms! From that moment on, the two have been inseparable. Though it’s been less than a month, Finnick is adjusting very well to his new home. Steven writes, “he spends most of his time interacting with (or should I say tormenting!) our 8-year-old Tabby. Finn is just so much fun!”
Have you adopted a pet? Email us your story at email@example.com, and we might feature it on the blog!
Guest blog by ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker
For years, puppies and kittens have been given as presents for birthdays, holidays, or just as gestures of love. But some shelters, breeders, and more than a few writers frown on the tradition under the unsubstantiated suspicion that someone surprised with such a gift is ill-suited to care for it. The fear is that the animal will be returned like an ugly sweater, or worse, face neglect or abuse.
It’s a frightening thought, but given a number research findings, some as recent as October, the fear is not based in reality. There’s just no proof that giving animals as gifts is not in their best interest. This misconception may not only prevent the movement of shelter animals to potentially loving homes, but also drive potential adopters toward unscrupulous and inhumane sources for pets including pet stores that almost always get their inventory from puppy mills.
In a scientific study conducted earlier this year and published in October, the ASPCA found that 96 percent of people who received pets as gifts reported it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. Also, 86 percent of the pets in the study are still in the home, a number roughly equivalent with the percentage of pets retained following a routine adoption.
The survey further revealed no difference in attachment based on whether the gift was a surprise or known in advance. This supports previous studies conducted in the 1990s and 2000, which also found that pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired directly by an individual owner.
ASPCA Vice President of Shelter Research and Development Dr. Emily Weiss, an animal behaviorist who authored some of that research, blogged about the findings:
“Every couple of months, the ‘no pets as gifts’ myth raises its ugly head,” Weiss writes. “Christmas is coming up, birthdays are every day, and dogs and cats in some shelters around the country are missing chances at homes, so it’s time to put this myth to bed.”
Knowing that pet gifting isn’t inherently wrong doesn’t mean you should give a pet to anyone. Pets should only be given as gifts to people with the ability, means and available time to care for one responsibly, and to children under 12 only if parents are ready to take on full responsibility. To help with the transition, Weiss recommends delivering a “starter kit”—bowls, food, toys, a collar, an ID tag, or litter—with the new pet, and encouraging new owners to get their pets licensed.
Also, make sure only to get pets from shelters and responsible breeders, not from pet stores or internet sources.
Concern about animal welfare comes from a good place, but too much fear and not enough information can stand in the way of a life-saving match. Find adoptable pets in your area by visiting www.aspca.org/adopt and searching for the shelter or rescue group nearest you.