Welcome to The Paw Print! In this recurring feature, we highlight the latest news affecting animals and animal-lovers around the country. Here are some of the top stories right now:
Panda Babies in Intensive Care: Twin Giant Pandas were born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The tiny babies require round-the-clock attention, but their mother, Mei Xiang, is struggling to care for both cubs at once. Zookeepers and veterinarians are currently providing intensive care to help save these special animals. [The New York Times]
Stray Dog Saves Tourist: While vacationing in Greece, 25-year-old Georgia Bradley was threatened by two men on a secluded beach—until a stray dog jumped in to protect her. Georgina adopted the dog, now named Pepper, who later gave birth to six puppies. [The Huffington Post]
Go, Tigers? An Ohio high school known for featuring a live tiger cub as its mascot is currently under fire from animal welfare organizations. Although the tigers are well cared for during their stints as mascots, the school has been asked to prove that they will live at an accredited facility when they’ve outgrown their jobs, and that they’ll be cared for throughout their lives. [The New York Times]
Army Dog Reunited with Handler: US Army Specialist Tyler Roberts spent a year in Afghanistan with a Tactical Explosive Detective Dog named Donna. They were separated in 2011, but Roberts spent the last four years searching for her. He recently found her abandoned at a kennel in Virginia and adopted her. “I owe her my life, and I intend to spoil her for the remainder of hers,” he said. [USA Today]
Blind Shelter Cat Has His Very Own Seeing-Eye Kitten: At a South Carolina SPCA, a blind cat named Blinkin was having trouble getting around. Fortunately, a fuzzy black kitten named Hefty was eager to help, and Hefty now guides Blinkin wherever he needs to go. The new best friends are currently looking for a home together. [The Dodo]
Craft Beer Goes to the Dogs: A craft beer brewery in Indianapolis has launched the first ever “dog brew,” a non-alcoholic beer made especially for dogs. Made with meat bones and vegetables, the non-carbonated beverage is now on tap—and all proceeds will go to local animal shelters. [USA Today]
The ASPCA, along with horse-lovers from near and far, headed out to Bridgehampton, New York, this week for the prestigious and star-studded 40th Annual Hampton Classic Horse Show.
For the ninth consecutive year, the ASPCA partnered with this iconic week-long show to promote animal adoption and raise awareness of critical equine cruelty issues with two special ASPCA-hosted events.
Things kicked off on Monday with our annual ASPCA Adoption and Animal Welfare Day, during which spectators got the opportunity to meet rescue horses face-to-face, hear their rescuers’ stories and learn ways they can make a difference for equines. Several local animal shelters and rescue groups were on site throughout the day to find loving homes for adorable, adoptable animals, including dogs, cats and, of course, horses. Even some formerly wild mustangs made an appearance!
Attendees were invited to the ASPCA Equine Town Hall just days later to hear experts from the ASPCA’s Government Relations department and Our Farm Equine Rescue discuss critical issues impacting horses today, like horse slaughter, homelessness and neglect, and how to rescue, rehab and re-home horses from the slaughter lot.
To make the events even more special, the ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassadors team of top international riders, including Georgina Bloomberg, Brianne Goutal, Hayley Barnhill, Stacia Madden and our newest ambassador, Jennifer Gates, were on site during the week to answer questions and greet show-goers. Network correspondent and animal advocate Jill Rappaport, who is also an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, hosted Monday’s event.
The protection of horses has been a core part of the ASPCA mission since our founding nearly 150 years ago. The Hampton Classic allows us and our Welfare Ambassadors to share that passion with the equine community and spectators of the show, and to encourage them to serve as a voice for animals.
Alicia is a spirited and affectionate cat who is looking for a loving home. Although Alicia suffered head trauma that led to some trust issues and behavioral challenges, her distinctive personality, signature “chirping” sounds and ability to persevere through her challenges have made her a staff favorite. She’s curious, quirky, and loves to be the center of attention!
Our Behavior team has worked to identify some of the things that make Alicia uncomfortable, such as unfamiliar spaces or having her paws handled, and can work with an adopter on ways to help her navigate those discomforts and acclimate comfortably to her to her new home.
Alicia is not a climber or a jumper, in part due to impaired coordination. This means she prefers to avoid stairs and doesn’t jump on furniture or perch on window sills. As such, her food, toys and water should remain at ground level. She would do best in an adults-only home with an experienced, cat-savvy adopter. Adopt Alicia today!
Ten years ago, the nation and the world were horrified by the catastrophic loss of life and property in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The human toll was devastating. But so was the toll on thousands of companion animals throughout the Gulf coast. An estimated 250,000 dogs and cats were displaced or died as a result of the storm.
Animal rescue groups rushed to the scene and committed themselves to the daunting challenge of saving as many lives as they could. The ASPCA worked closely with the Louisiana SPCA and the Humane Society of South Mississippi, sending dedicated staff to work on the ground for two years and contributing $13 million in grants for rescue, reunification and sheltering efforts.
In collaboration with our partners, we helped reunite more than a thousand pets with their owners, and helped transport over 7,500 homeless and displaced animals to the Lamar-Dixon Exposition Center in Gonzales, Louisiana, which had been dedicated to their care.
Despite weeks of round-the-clock work from responders and volunteers, flaws in the process kept us from being even more effective. It became obvious that new organizational approaches and legal fixes were necessary to get ahead of the next major calamity, and—true to form—we didn’t delay.
Less than a year after the storm, two groups were formed with formal support and participation from the ASPCA: the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition (NARSC) and the National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs (NASAAEP). These coalitions are dedicated to enhancing communications between animal welfare organizations, state agencies, and volunteers during emergencies. They also conduct in-depth trainings around the country on topics including flood and fire rescue, pet first aid, proper animal handling, decontamination and animal sheltering and assessment.
On the federal legislative side, two Acts passed by Congress—the Pet Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act—added pets to existing federal guidelines for disaster planning, and designated FEMA as the lead agency for pets in federally declared disasters. These laws not only save lives, but elevate the issue of animal safety to its rightful place among other natural disaster priorities.
Another measure only recently proposed, the Animal Emergency Planning Act, would require businesses that house pets—including pet breeders, research facilities, zoos, animal carriers and animal handlers—to develop detailed contingency plans for animal care in cases of emergency. These businesses profit or benefit from animals; it only make sense that they take full responsibility for the animals’ safety.
Important legislative work is also happening at the state level. If you live in California, I urge you to join us and the American Red Cross in supporting AB 317, which will facilitate the establishment of vital emergency shelters in the event of a state emergency. We’re collaborating with the Red Cross to also find ways of co-locating animal and human shelters to help keep families and their pets together during severe crises. AB 317 faces a critical final vote in the Senate next week before heading to Governor Brown's desk for his consideration.
Setting up animal shelters quickly is crucial. During Katrina, many of the existing Louisiana shelters were flooded, making emergency facilities the only available shelters across four parishes.
In New York, lawmakers recently passed a bill that will enable veterinarians to cross state lines to respond to pets in disasters and other crises. Because these unexpected events can often overwhelm local agencies, it’s vital to facilitate the quick arrival of out-of-state veterinarians who specialize in shelter medicine, forensic sciences, and emergency response protocol. This bill is currently awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature.
Of course, the biggest responsibility for keeping pets safe and alive during disasters belongs to their owners. When owners don’t take necessary precautions, it puts both them and their animals in danger. According to a Fritz Institute poll, 44 percent of New Orleans residents delayed or chose not to evacuate the city during Hurricane Katrina because they refused to leave their pets behind. A similar nationwide poll by Lake Research Partners on behalf of the ASPCA found 42 percent of Americans would also not evacuate without their pets.
Simple, inexpensive preparations can keep owners from having to choose between their pets’ lives and their own. Some of the most important tips:
Micro-chip your pets and make sure they wear collars and ID tags with up-to-date contact information.
Keep current photos of your pets on hand.
Establish quick exit routes in your home, and know the locations of local animal shelters, pet-friendly hotels and friends who can watch your pets for you.
Put stickers on your windows to let rescuers know pets currently live there. (Please remove them if no animals are inside)
Put together an emergency kit, including pet carriers, canned food, bowls, bottled water, first aid items, garbage bags, and blankets.
With natural disasters always threatening to wreak havoc on our lives, we must continue to learn from them and actively prepare for their effects. This is the best way to protect ourselves as well as those whose lives depend on us.
Some animals are people-pleasers: they love everyone they meet and aren’t afraid to show affection. Some animals are shy, and instead prefer to devote themselves to one or two close confidantes who have earned their trust. Cheerio, a one-year-old Maltese rescued from cruelty, was the latter. Fortunately, she found the perfect companion to share her life—and her love—with after being rescued by the ASPCA. Here is her Happy Tail.
When Cheerio was rescued in February 2015, she had a hair band embedded deep in her neck and head. Although her skin had started to repair itself, the band had caused damage to her left ear canal. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Cheerio received medical care, along with dental and spay surgeries, before heading to our Adoption Center to search for a home.
But the abuse Cheerio had endured left her emotionally drained—she was nervous around strangers and other dogs and cried when left alone. Underneath the scared exterior, though, Cheerio was a sweet pooch eager for affection. Once she warmed up to someone, she would stick right by their side. The true definition of a “lap dog,” she loved to be stroked and cuddled. We knew that some adopter would be very lucky to have her, and fortunately, we met Jacqueline A. just a few months later.
Jacqueline admits that she wasn’t always eager for a new furry friend. “When our Bichon Frise passed away after being part of the family for 16 years, I decided to never have a dog again,” she confesses. The heartbreak was more than she could handle. But Jacqueline’s son had a different point of view. “He argued that our dog, even though a family dog, had been rather mine,” she says. “He said he wanted to go through the experience of adopting a dog and having a dog that would follow him, like my dog followed me around the house. A dog that he could call his own.”
Moved by her son’s request, Jacqueline began “window shopping” on the ASPCA website, and less than a month later they were at our Adoption Center meeting available pups in person. “We wanted a small dog that could come with us everywhere we went,” Jacqueline says, and it wasn’t long before they spotted Cheerio. “As we walked through the ASPCA, we saw her through a glass wall, all curled up and shaking. We couldn’t see her face, just a number of gray, black and taupe spots on her shaved, white body.” Cheerio had just been released from the Hospital and wasn’t ready for adoption yet, but Jacqueline’s son took one look and said “THAT ONE” without hesitation. “We decided to wait as long as it took for her to be ready for us.”
On April 10, Cheerio was finally ready. Jacqueline and her son adopted her and gave her a new name, Piccola, which means “small” or “little” in Italian. Jacqueline says, “From the moment she came home, she displayed a great personality. She is friendly, vivacious, sometimes naughty, and so cute that we can’t take a walk without being stopped every few steps with a petting request.”
What’s more, Jacqueline adds, “From the first day, she determined that my son was her ‘person.’ Even though I am the one who feeds her and bathes her, it is my son whom she follows around the home.” In other words, it sounds like both Cheerio and Jacqueline’s son got exactly what they both wanted: a best friend to call their own. Congratulations to this happy new family!