Way to go, Governor Cuomo! With the stroke of a pen, New York State’s chief executive has just enacted a measure to allow local governments in New York State to regulate commercial dog breeders and pet stores.
The new law, championed by Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), will enable New York’s cities, towns and counties to decide for themselves what is tolerable within their borders. The ability to legislate animal care-related standards beyond the state’s minimal requirements could lead to a crackdown on cruel and unscrupulous pet dealers throughout New York.
“The puppy mill industry wanted to keep the state law unchanged because it allowed maximum profit and minimum accountability,” says Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “With this law, we’ll be able to keep a closer eye on these operations, stop inhumane practices, and undoubtedly save many lives. For New Yorkers and animal lovers—and animals themselves—this is a huge and important win.”
Brad Shear, Executive Director of Mohawk Hudson Humane Society, says: “I first want to thank the governor for signing the third animal protection law of the year and making New York State safer for animals. For far too long, humane societies and animal shelters have had to pay the price for disreputable breeders. When puppy mills are uncovered and brought to justice, those dogs end up with our organizations—the folks in each community who believe in treating animals humanely and with dignity. We feed them, care for them, nurse them back to health and adopt them out. We also carry the financial burden. This bill will give our local governments the power to stop puppy mills and the irresponsible pet shops who sell these animals.”
Libby Post, Executive Director of the NYS Animal Protection Federation, also deeply thanks the governor for signing this bill: “Governor Cuomo's signature on this bill couldn’t come soon enough. We just saw a horrible puppy mill incident in Montgomery County where a Border Collie breeder was finally brought to justice for not providing adequate shelter and care for his dogs—including puppies—as the polar vortex bore down on the Capital Region with sub-zero temperatures and considerable snow. The New York State Animal Protection Federation will now work with localities throughout the state to help them put mechanisms in place to stop puppy mills before more atrocities happen.”
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At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, our veterinarians provide world-class care to each one of our patients. But there is another group of clinical staff members whose day-to-day work is crucial to the well-being of each pet being treated—veterinary technicians, commonly known as “vet techs.” Although each patient that comes to the ASPCA Animal hospital is special and unique, it is also true that our vet techs repeatedly see the same— sometimes preventable—medical conditions. Since ASPCA vet techs are the front line of our clinical team, we asked a group of them, “What would you like pet parents to know and do to keep their pets in tip-top shape?”
Here’s some pet care advice from ASPCA vet techs:
Geniene: When a cat is having trouble urinating, it is a medical emergency. Urinary obstructions can be fatal. If you see your cat going in and out of the litter box, posturing or only producing a small amount of urine—possibly while crying—bring your cat to the vet right away! Feeding your cat a diet that consists primarily of wet food will reduce the risk of urinary obstructions.
Mary: Spaying your pet is not just about preventing unwanted litters. Animals that have not been spayed are at risk of developing pyometra, an infected uterus. Pyometra is potentially life-threatening, but the risk of developing pyometra is zero when an animal has been spayed. Additionally, the cost of treating a pyometra is many times the cost of spaying an animal. There are many benefits to spaying or neutering your pet.
Temetrias: Cat’s don’t normally cough— if your cat is coughing, you should take her to the vet. A coughing cat may have developed asthma or fluid on its lungs and needs medical attention. A common misconception is that cats cough up hairballs, but when a cat “coughs” up a hairball it is actually vomiting.
Erica: Many people believe that cats are agile, and therefore won’t fall out of windows. Cats can lose their balance, get spooked or react to birds with a strong prey drive. Cats don’t always land on their feet, and a serious fall can be devastating. Cat owners should always have screens on their windows.
Rena: All dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirus. The virus is common, life-threatening and expensive to treat. Puppies and young dogs are at particularly high risk. Have your dog vaccinated, and don’t let puppies’ paws touch the ground outside their homes until they have completed their parvo vaccine series. Dogs can contract parvo from walking in the grass, then licking their paws; from nose-to-nose or nose-to-rear contact; or from smelling feces or drinking out of puddles.
Manny: It’s very important that pet parents walk their dogs on a leash. The majority of cases where dogs are brought to our hospital after having been hit by cars results from dogs being allowed to walk off leash. Having your dog on a leash also helps protect it from aggressive animals. Dogs off leash cannot be kept safe in the way that leashed dogs can.
It’s been a big week for pigs! Two major U.S. pork producers announced that they are taking steps to root out one of the cruelest factory farming practices: The use of gestation crates, devices that confine pregnant mother pigs for most of their lives in spaces so small they cannot turn around.
On Tuesday, Smithfield Foods announced it is recommending that all of its contract farmers convert from gestation crates to group housing systems for pregnant sows by 2022. The company offered the incentive of a contract extension to these growers upon completion of the conversion. Smithfield had already committed to phasing gestation crates out of 100% of its company-owned facilities by 2017.
Yesterday another major pork producer, Tyson Foods, sent a letter to its suppliers outlining the company’s new stance that mother pigs should be able to “stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their legs.” Since gestation crates prevent even that degree of movement, this means that future Tyson sow barns will hopefully feature alternative housing systems. The letter also encouraged an end to the practice of killing sick or injured piglets through blunt force trauma and urged the use of pain relief during castration and tail-docking, which factory farms currently perform without using anesthesia. Finally, it urged producers to install cameras in their facilities to improve accountability for the proper handling of animals.
Unfortunately, neither company is requiring these changes from its suppliers. Still, these are important steps in the right direction and send a strong message to consumers, pork producers and the public that immobilizing farm animals is not only inhumane, but also unnecessary. These important announcements leave no doubt that change is possible, and that’s something we can all celebrate!
At the ASPCA, we believe that innovative animal welfare organizations have the power to change an entire community. That’s why we are pleased and proud to announce our latest grant recipient: the Shelter Medicine Program at Louisiana State University.
This unique program takes LSU veterinary students and teams them up with inmates at three prisons in southern Louisiana. Together, they trap, neuter, and return feral cats to prison grounds. Trap, neuter, and return (TNR) programs have a proven benefit to feral cat colonies, and to date, this program has spayed/neutered, ear tipped, vaccinated, and dewormed nearly 350 cats!
Inmates who participate in this program are required to attend a veterinary seminar series, upon completion of which they receive an LSU Shelter Medicine Certificate. Additionally, they gain sympathy for animals and experience the rewards of serving their community. In fact, three inmates have continued their education and become certified veterinary technicians.
The Vet Students
Students in this program gain hands-on veterinary knowledge that they wouldn’t typically acquire during regular veterinary training. They get invaluable experience working with and managing feral cat colonies, prepping cats for surgery, assisting with anesthesia, and monitoring recovery.
TNR programs understand that cats have been living outside for thousands of years. TNR’s purpose is to reduce overpopulation while offering feral cats a better chance at long, healthy lives. After being spayed/neutered, most cats in this program are returned to their colonies. However, the friendliest cats and kittens are put up for adoption at the Dixon Prison’s Pen Pals Animal Shelter—a state-of-the-art animal shelter located right on prison grounds. Pen Pals has successfully placed 303 dogs and cats since 2010.
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For 147 years, the ASPCA has been a leading voice for animals, fighting for their welfare however we can and preventing cruelty wherever we find it. This year marks my 12th year with the ASPCA, and my first as President and CEO, and as I look back on 2013, I’m struck by three thoughts: How much we’ve accomplished in just a year, how much we’re poised to accomplish next year, and how crucial your support has been and will continue to be through it all.
Every animal saved is a success story and a worthy highlight, but there were a few key accomplishments that made 2013 such a year to remember.
Stopping Dog Fighting
In 2013, we played a leading role in two multi-state dog-fighting raid—one focused in Missouri in March, and another centered in Alabama in August—that not only rescued over 450 total dogs from cruelty, victimization and death, but elevated dog fighting to its rightful place among the most vile and despicable of human crimes. My congratulations and admiration to our many teams and staff who participated—saving lives and spreading the word—as well as to the various animal welfare agencies and authorities with whom we successfully collaborated.
The NYPD Partnership
In future years, we’re going to look back on 2013 as the first baby step in an initiative that transformed how animals are rescued and protected not only in New York City, but hopefully all across the country, where the full size and scope of city police departments can be applied to these vulnerable and victimized populations. The NYPD has always been required by law to enforce animal cruelty laws in NYC; with this partnership, they will now take the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in the five boroughs.