At the ASPCA, we encourage all pet parents to spay/neuter their pets. There are so many benefits associated with these procedures, but many pet parents may not be aware that it can be dangerous to not spay their pets until it’s almost too late.
One day last spring, Sandra R. noticed that her eight-year-old cat, Petra, wasn’t eating. Her belly distended, she vomited and was lethargic—far from her normal self. Sandra decided to bring Petra to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH).
Petra was suffering from a pyometra, an infection of the uterus that that can be fatal in cats and dogs. Pyometra usually occurs in older females, with about 25 percent of them suffering from pyometra before the age of 10. Radiographs showed Petra’s distended belly containing a greatly enlarged uterus filled with pus. Once removed by Dr. Maren Krafchik, the uterus weighed almost three lbs.—a third of Petra’s total weight. Fortunately, Petra has since made a full recovery.
Dogs are equally susceptible to pyometra infection. Gershon C., a retired sanitation worker who lives in Queens, took notice when his 10-year-old Rottweiler, Princess, had not eaten for several days and was drinking water excessively.
He brought her to the ASPCA, where veterinarian Dr. Marisa Altieri suspected a pyometra. Her diagnosis was spot on, and an ultrasound showed that Princess’s uterus had ruptured in two places. Dr. Altieri set about surgery immediately, removing the uterus, which weighed 20 lbs.
Princess underwent treatment for a pyometra infection at the ASPCA Animal Hospital.
While pyometra is preventable, it is one of the most common maladies treated at AAH. Our veterinarians performed 145 surgeries to remove pyometras in 2014 alone—nearly three per week.
It’s best to spay a pet before she goes into heat; around four months of age is ideal. If your unspayed female shows signs of lethargy, poor appetite, excessive water drinking, vaginal discharge, excessive urination, pale mucous membranes (gum color), vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or abdominal enlargement, take her to a veterinarian immediately.
When an animal is rescued from cruelty, the road to recovery is not always easy. A dog or cat exposed to abuse wouldn’t be blamed for wanting to shut down and avoid the world, but more often than not, the animals we meet prove to have an unrivaled resilience—a strength and spirit that shines through despite the darkness of their past. We are inspired by these animals every day, and we are so proud to share their stories. Here is the Happy Tail of one such animal, a Pit Bull named Stella.
On July 31, 2014, the ASPCA and the NYPD joined forces to rescue 20 dogs from a dog fighting operation in Queens, New York. Multiple dogs, many of whom were emaciated, scarred, and wearing heavy chains, were found without access to food or water. A bloody treadmill, weighted harnesses, steroids, syringes and other dog fighting paraphernalia were also found on the property. Stella was one of the canine victims rescued that day.
After her rescue, Stella spent a month at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where she received immediate medical attention and an eventual spay surgery. After her recovery, she was transferred to the ASPCA Adoption Center to begin her search for a forever home. In early October, she hit the jackpot in the form of Katelyn E. and her boyfriend, Jesse.
Kate and Jesse had been talking about dog adoption for a while before they met Stella. Kate says, “We were looking forward to having a pet in our family—someone to always keep us company and brighten our day. We also knew that there are so many dogs in shelters looking for a home, so we definitely wanted to adopt!” They met a number of dogs at the Adoption Center, but Stella stood out as the perfect match.
“We knew Stella was the right dog for us after our first meeting,” Kate recalls. “Her tail was wagging and she was just happy to be able to play with her toys.” They adopted the 40-lb. pooch and brought her home that same day.
Though we were thrilled to see Stella find a forever home, we knew that her painful past was still a fresh memory. Fortunately, Kate and Jesse were eager and willing to put in the effort to help sweet Stella adjust. “When we first brought Stella home she was very shy and scared,” Kate recalls. Everything was new for Stella—she huddled in her crate and was fearful of the apartment’s stairs. For the first few days, Kate and Jesse carried her up all four flights. But once she realized that Kate and Jesse’s home was now her home, too, Stella transformed.
“After the first few nights, Stella was like a new dog,” says Kate. “She is so happy to be with her new family. Every day we wake up to her wagging her tail—she literally jumps into our laps and kisses our faces to say good morning.” Stella now handles the stairs with ease and eagerly awaits snuggle time with her family. “Every new experience is so exciting for her,” Kate marvels. “She loves getting new toys, bones, and lots of hugs. She is such a sweet dog, and by far the best decision we have made. We are extremely happy with Stella.”
After a lifetime of pain, Stella’s new home probably seemed too good to be true. But she eventually realized that it is in fact the opposite—it’s everything she has always deserved. We couldn’t be more grateful for her very happy ending.
In a letter to the editor published today in The Star Ledger, ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker urges New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to take action on a pending pet purchasing bill.
When a family buys a puppy from a New Jersey pet store, they’re doing more than just exchanging money for a pet. Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, so when consumers buy these dogs from pet stores, they are in fact supporting an industry that systematically abuses animals for profit.
In puppy mills across the country, dogs are typically stacked on top of one another in tiny, wire-floored cages that can injure their paws and legs. Female breeding dogs are forced to bear litter after litter without any time for their bodies to recover. Once they can no longer produce puppies, these mothers are often callously discarded or killed.
Conditions at puppy mills are reprehensible and intolerable, but many consumers are unaware that these sites are by far the leading source of pet store puppies. If pet stores are legally allowed to use unethical and inhumane breeders and brokers and to keep those sources secret, consumers have no way of making informed decisions when they bring a new pet into their family.
In December, New Jersey lawmakers took a strong step to insert accountability and transparency into the industry by unanimously passing S.1870 to amend New Jersey’s current Pet Purchase Protection Law. This new law would force New Jersey pet stores to disclose the breeders and brokers that supply them, giving consumers a chance to make informed decisions. It would also prohibit pet stores from selling puppies from breeders that fail to comply with even minimal federal and state standards, helping to put pressure on some of the worst industry participants to significantly improve their practices.
This law protects both animals and consumers, and we’re grateful to have worked closely with the bill’s sponsors and to have helped push it through the legislative process.
Now it’s up to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to take the final step by signing this bill. New Jersey residents can help by contacting the governor and telling him that Garden State animals and consumers deserve to be protected, not exploited.
The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey, is the first and only facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for fearful, undersocialized dogs, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations. In our regular “Pup and Circumstance” feature, we introduce the Rehab Center’s latest graduates in hopes of finding each one the loving forever home they deserve.
We’re so proud to announce that Flynn, a three-to-five year-old mixed breed dog, has graduated from our Rehab Center and is ready for a forever home! Flynn came to us last year after being rescued from a hoarding case in South Carolina, where he and 66 other dogs were found living in muddy water.
A “staff favorite,” Flynn can often be found relaxing in his fluffy bed, watching the world go by with his trademark mixture of curiosity and worldliness. He earned his nickname, “Prince Flynn,” due to his affinity for extra soft bedding atop his “throne.” He is reserved with people he does not know well, but comes alive in the presence of his good friends and is a playful, funny guy.
Flynn enjoys walks in quiet areas and would love to play with canine friends. He is snuggly with his favorite people and would be thrilled to share your couch while you catch up on the latest movies. His ideal family will understand his shy, reserved nature and have the patience to bring out the jester that lies beneath his quiet exterior.
Though Flynn was in relatively good health at the time of his rescue, he is suffering from double hip dysplasia—a painful joint condition—and is scheduled to have hip replacement surgery this month. Flynn would love to secure an adopter before his surgery so he can recover in a loving home. He is looking for a quiet household with another dog or two so he can play once his hips feel better.
If you are interested in adopting this wonderful dog, please contact the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at (973) 377-5609 or [email protected].
To see Flynn in action, check out the video below!
As part of the Subaru 'Share the Love' Event, we hosted a special photo contest in December to celebrate rescued pets and the people who gave them a second chance—and a loving home.
We asked each entrant to tell us what is so special about having their pets home for the holidays and received hundreds of heartwarming responses and adorable photos. Meet the winners below!
Bart, Buckley and Luna
Rescuing animals runs in Helen’s family—her grandmother still fosters animals through her local shelter and runs a horse farm at 78 years old! Through volunteering with her grandmother, Helen writes, “I learned about how special a bond can be between a person and a rescue pet. They've been dumped, cast aside, or lost. To me it's all about second chances, and giving loving homes to the ones who really need them. Buckley, Luna and Bart (all rescues) are more than just pets to me. They're family. And the holidays just wouldn't be the same without your family!”
Second Place Winners
“I'm always excited to get home because I know Rukas will be right at the door! He walks right up to me and falls over like a rag doll waiting to be picked up or rubbed on his belly,” Athina writes.
“My husband and I rescued a Pit Bull in October. He has changed our lives for the better and we cannot imagine a life without him. This will be his very first Christmas with us and we are beyond excited to give him a proper happy holiday filled with lots of love, treats and toys,” Chelsea writes.
After Christina lost her beloved 17-year-old cat, she knew she still had lots of love to give. As Christina walked through the shelter, Sophie appeared at the front of her cage, mewing right to her. “I knew the minute I saw her sweet face she was the newest member of our family,” she said. “She has been the best thing to come into our lives. She is full of energy and affection all of the time and we just love having her around. We're so happy she can fully enjoy life now and know she will be forever loved.”