Last fall, NYPD patrol officers responded to a 311 call and found two underweight dogs living in deplorable conditions in a Bronx backyard. The officers brought the dogs, Hall and Oates, to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where our veterinarians treated them. The owner was arrested and charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Hall and Oates were part of the first group of animals to benefit from a new partnership between the ASPCA and the NYPD. With this groundbreaking collaboration, which started with a pilot phase in the Bronx in September 2013, the NYPD will now take the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in NYC’s five boroughs. The change—given the NYPD’s tens of thousands of officers across 77 precincts—will allow for a swift response to abuse complaints and expedite the ASPCA’s treatment and rehabilitation of abused animals.
In the first several months of the partnership, the NYPD received nearly 800 hundred calls from the public about suspected cruelty. Twelve arrests were made, and more than 30 animals were treated at the ASPCA.
The arresting officer in Hall and Oates’ case was moved by the experience. “I am going to look further into this matter and try to make a change,” the officer said at the time. “A lot of officers are interested in what I did today.”
If you live in New York City and witness animal cruelty, please call 311 (or 911 for crimes in progress) to notify the NYPD. To learn how to report cruelty in your state, please visit our Reporting Cruelty FAQ.
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.
While the holidays are a time for baked goods galore, it’s often unsafe for our four-legged friends to join in on the sugar-filled fun. Just before Christmas, Tinkerbell, a two-year-old, five-pound Chihuahua, wolfed down eight macadamia nut cookies that she found in her pet parent’s backpack. When her pet parent, Joseph C., saw that Tinkerbell was vomiting and lethargic, he brought her to the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH).
ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Michael Dugan assessed Tinkerbell, and submitted lab work. Her symptoms and test results were consistent with possible macadamia nut toxicity. AAH staff consulted with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and confirmed that this was a strong possibility.
Tinkerbell was admitted to AAH where she received supportive care in the Intensive Care Unit. Luckily, she responded well to treatment. She went home the next day with antibiotics and antacids, and Joseph reports that she has made a full recovery. He says from now on, he’ll keep sweet treats out of Tinkerbell’s reach. We’re so glad this tiny pup is happy and healthy!
Many pet parents don't realize that pets can also suffer from breast cancer. In veterinary medicine, these tumors are referred to as mammary gland tumors, and are unfortunately one of the most common kinds of cancer in pets.
Cats generally have eight mammary glands, arranged in four pairs. Dogs usually have 10 glands arranged in five pairs, though the number varies with the size of the dog. Mammary gland tumors in dogs and cats can be benign or malignant. In cats, around 90% of mammary gland tumors are malignant. In dogs, approximately 50% are malignant.
How can mammary gland tumors be prevented in dogs and cats?
The most effective way to prevent mammary gland tumors is to have your pet spayed before she ever goes into heat. There is a myth that animals should have one heat cycle (or give birth to one litter) before they are spayed. In fact, dogs who are spayed before their first heat cycle are 2,000 times less likely to develop breast cancer! Cats spayed before their first heat are 91% less likely to develop breast cancer than unspayed cats. After just one heat cycle, the risk rises in both dogs and cats.
Detecting mammary gland tumors
Just like in people, performing mammary exams in dogs and cats is very important. Early detection is key. If your dog or cat allows, perform a mammary exam on her once a month. Gently feel the tissue under and around each nipple, "rolling" the tissue between your fingers. Very small mammary tumors often feel like a little BB pellet under the skin. If you feel even a tiny lump or firm area, bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately.
There is evidence that canine mammary tumors can become malignant over time, so prompt removal is essential.
Treatment of mammary gland tumors in pets
The main treatment at this time is surgical removal. Depending on the situation, your pet may need to have the affected mammary gland, several mammary glands, or all the glands on that side of her body removed. The tumor that is removed will be sent to the lab for a biopsy to tell you if it is benign or malignant. If the tumor is malignant, your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary oncologist for consultation.
Selecting a veterinarian can be a daunting process for some. From convenience and price to competency and compassion, there are a number of factors that you may consider when deciding on a doctor for your pet.
Barbara Glover had many reasons to select the ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) as her veterinary practice of choice. She has been an ASPCA adopter and a volunteer for more than 10 years. She has been coming to the ASPCA hospital since 2006 because she trusts the doctors and staff to provide the best care for her special-needs animals.
In 2008, Barbara’s cat Leo had already received treatment for hyperthyroidism and was several months into treatment for small cell lymphoma when Barbara learned that Jazz, the love of her life, had cancer. She began a rigorous course of chemotherapy treatments for him, but knew that it was time to say goodbye a few months later when his mass continued to grow. Barbara says that when the time had come for Jazz, everyone at the ASPCA was so wonderful and so compassionate that saying goodbye to Jazz was one of the most memorable and touching experiences she ever had at the hospital.
Dr. Janice Fenichel, who has been treating Barbara’s cats for years, says Barbara is an amazing client. “She is always right on top of things,” Dr. Fenichel notes. “She is very aware and conscientious and follows through.” She also says that Barbara will go the extra mile for her pets, but knows when to make the hard call.
Barbara has had kitties with a wide range of special needs, including socialization issues, neurological conditions, hip laxity, heart conditions and blindness. Her current kitties—Serena (born with no eyes), Creamsicle (heart disease and a neurological disorder) and Pumpernickel (rear-limb weakness)—all receive buckets of attention from AAH’s staff on every visit, and it’s one of the reasons that Barbara keeps coming back.
When all is said and done, your choice of veterinarian simply needs to “feel right.” Whether it’s the way the staff greets you, or the way the nurse carries your pet into the exam room, or even the way the doctor is able to explain something frightening in a reassuring way, your veterinarian should not only be a medical expert, but a trusted partner in the care of your pets.
Looking for a trusted vet? To make an appointment at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, pleasefill out this formor contact us at (646) 259-4080.