Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee approved an agriculture spending bill with some positive notes for animal welfare, although it failed to protect our nation’s horses.
By a single vote, the Committee failed to approve an amendment offered by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) that would have maintained the status quo by barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. Congress renewed this ban last year, prohibiting the cruel and unnecessary horse slaughter industry from operating anywhere in the country. Without further action to extend this ban beyond this September, Congress opens the door for a possible return of horse slaughter to the United States.
It’s disappointing that the House Appropriations Committee could allow such an irresponsible, wasteful use of taxpayer dollars to resume. The ASPCA is working with leaders in the House to include the ban on horse slaughter funding when the bill reaches the House Floor. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to consider a similar amendment when it meets next week.
“A total lapse in management at every level” was the word from the Committee on another critical animal welfare matter. Referencing the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC)’s failures after a shocking New York Times exposé detailing egregious cruelties at the facility, the Committee took strong action to address the problems. The legislation approved this week provides funding for inspections of USMARC and other federally operated agricultural research centers and mandates improvements for animal welfare at these facilities. In fact, the legislation withholds $56.1 million dollars of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service budget until the agency offers official assurances to Congress that it is adhering to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and following necessary reporting requirements.
Additionally, the bill blocks funds for licensing of Class B animal dealers who sell “random source” dogs and cats, often stolen or lost household pets obtained from disreputable and difficult-to-trace sources, for use in research. This language, championed by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), was added as part of a non-controversial manager’s amendment to the bill.
Finally, the agriculture spending bill maintains current funding levels for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. These funds will go toward AWA inspections and enforcement of provisions for dogs in puppy mills, and will enable the USDA to crack down on the cruel practice of horse soring.
The Agriculture Appropriations bill may move to the full House for consideration in coming months. Find out how you can help make sure it includes protections for our nation’s animals: Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today.
Meet Wonder! This pretty pup has lots of energy to spare. She would be thrilled to go home with a new best friend who will spend lots of time running around with her to keep her busy, happy and healthy. This smart girl already knows how to “sit” and could learn a few more tricks, too—especially if her favorite treats are involved!
Wonder is friendly and affectionate with her favorite people, but she may need some time to warm up to strangers. This sweet girl is also interested in playing with other dogs. Given time to learn how to play politely, we think she could make some canine friends. Wonder would do best with an experienced adopter. Adopt Wonder today!
Wonder is available for adoption at the ASPCA Adoption Center. If you are interested in adopting Wonder, please call our Adoptions Department in New York City at (212) 876-7700 ext. 4120. To learn more about Wonder, please visit her profile page.
Watch the video below to check out Wonder in action at our Adoption Center!
Kristin K. knew something was wrong early one recent Monday when her 11-year-old adopted tabby, Sonny, skipped breakfast and lay on the floor.
“He’s the self-appointed sheriff in our household, always policing the other two cats,” Kristin says. “And he’s normally very active in the morning and runs to his food bowl. So I had a bad feeling.”
Kristin immediately took Sonny to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he was examined by veterinarian Dr. Mary St. Martin.
“His symptoms were subtle, but he had a tense abdomen and a fever,” recalls Dr. St. Martin, who diagnosed Sonny with acute pancreatitis based on his blood work and an ultrasound that revealed changes in and around his pancreas.
Pancreatitis is commonly treated by veterinarians at the ASPCA, with supportive care such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and anti-nausea medications to control vomiting.
After three nights and four days of treatment at the Hospital, Sonny went home, where Kristin reports “the self-appointed sheriff is back at work.”
As it does in humans, the pancreas, a V-shaped organ located near the stomach and the small intestine, produces insulin, which helps metabolize sugar in the body and is necessary for the digestion of nutrients by producing enzymes which promote the digestion and absorption of fats.
While it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause, pancreatitis in cats and dogs can be triggered by certain infections or diseases, metabolic disorders, medications and abdominal surgery or trauma. In cats, pancreatitis is often associated with inflammatory liver or intestinal disease, also known as triaditis. In dogs, acute pancreatitis can be caused by dietary indiscretions. Obese and overweight pets, and those fed diets high in fat, are also at risk.
Sonny had never before suffered from pancreatitis but displayed the classic symptoms, including dehydration and decreased appetite. Dogs more commonly develop vomiting and abdominal pain. Both dogs and cats can also develop jaundice associated with pancreatitis.
There are also possible associations between pancreatitis (especially chronic pancreatitis) and diabetes. Sonny’s blood sugar was high and he is being monitored for the possible development of diabetes, which could require treatment with insulin injections.
“It isn't easy to prevent pancreatitis, but diet changes and keeping pets at ideal body weight may help,” says Dr. St. Martin.
ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) workers travel across the country to animal fights, puppy mills, disaster zones and other locations where animals are in immediate danger, often working 20-hour days, typically outside in extreme weather with few breaks. But one of the most amazing parts of FIR work isn’t the job—it’s the people who do it: Nearly 25% of these 1,700 emergency responders are over the age of 50.
These responders don’t measure their job satisfaction in terms of money, workplace or the nature of their position. The true rewards are the smiles, the wags, the licks and the purrs of the animals they save. In this special post, we’re shining a spotlight on ASPCA FIR responders who prove it’s never too late to do what you love—and to make a difference while doing it.
“It’s a lot of hard work, from the minute you hit the ground until you go to sleep,” says Jason Oneail, 52, a former sergeant major and Iraq war veteran who lives with his wife and two teenage daughters in New Hampshire. Jason considers his 30-year career in the army the best training for deploying as a volunteer ASPCA responder. Although he suffered a hip injury in Bosnia in 1995 during an explosion and a mini-stroke upon his return from Iraq in 2010, Jason deploys up to two weeks at a time— he spent last year’s Fourth of July helping care for 70 former fighting dogs in western Virginia. But Jason says this work with the ASPCA brings him closer to the career he wanted while growing up: a veterinarian. Jason’s also volunteered for ASPCA cases in New York, Indiana, and Florida, among other states, and was named “Volunteer of the Year” in 2014 by the Animal Rescue League of Bedford, New Hampshire.
Joanne Smith, 52, also grew up wanting to be a veterinarian. The sixth of eight kids who also shared their home with two foster children, she started working right after high school, getting a job in the insurance business before starting a home day care center when her daughter was born. But when the opportunity arose to work with animals as a veterinarian’s assistant, and later as an animal cruelty officer, for the Elk County Humane Society in Pennsylvania, she jumped at the chance. In 2008, Joanne became its Executive Director, even enlisting ASPCA’s help in a 2010 hoarding case that resulted in the seizure of nearly 400 cats. She joined the ASPCA team in 2012.
Now as an animal control officer for the town of Ridgway, Pennsylvania, Joanne finds each ASPCA deployment a valuable learning opportunity. Last May, she organized a search party for a missing Great Dane after the town experienced major flooding. “I used every skill I learned from the ASPCA’s behavior team—patience, proper body language, no eye contact—to catch that dog,” she recalls of finding “Ozzy” and reuniting her with her family.
Nebraska native Barb Davis, 66, traveled to New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina with another humane group, working in the Lower Ninth Ward to trap and rescue dogs who were running in packs. She rotated in and out every two weeks while working for her husband, a land surveyor, when she was home. After her husband died in 2008, Barb began deploying full-time. Her first experience with the ASPCA was a cat hoarding case in Jacksonville, Florida. “It was extremely rewarding. One lady fell in love with a double positive [FIV and leukemia] cat and adopted him. That was a highlight for me,” Barb recalls.
Since then, she has worked in a wide range of crises, from hoarding and animal fighting cases to disasters like the tornados in Joplin, Missouri, and Moore, Oklahoma. “After seeing what the ASPCA could do, I said, ‘I want to be part of that organization,’” Barb says of joining the ASPCA. “I’m where I should have been many years ago.”
We are so thankful to FIR Responders like Jason, Joanne and Barb for inspiring us all—and for their unwavering dedication to animals in need.To learn more about the ASPCA’s Field and Response Team and the rescue work they’re doing on the ground, please visit www.aspca.org/FIR.
At the ASPCA, we love it when animals and adopters just “fit.” It is so gratifying to bring a cat or dog into our Adoption Center and see them scooped into the perfect home right away. In the case of Vincent, a three-year-old cat who spent time at a city shelter, all it took was 10 days at the ASPCA before he found his ideal match—and he never looked back! Here is his story.
Vincent was already three years old when he came to the ASPCA in February 2015. He and five other cats were transferred from the local city shelter, where they hadn’t had any luck in their search for forever homes. At the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Vincent was treated for a bacterial infection and underwent a neuter procedure. Just a few days later, he met Forrest.
A lifelong animal-lover, Forrest and his partner decided to search for a pet at the ASPCA based on recommendations from friends. “We felt like we both had a lot of love to give a furry friend in need of a home,” he says, adding, “our home would be more complete with the sounds of little paws running around.”
The couple only met three or four cats before they were introduced to Vincent, and it was love at first sight. “Although there were so many very sweet little cats in the Adoption Center, as soon as we interacted with Vincent, we knew he was the cat for us,” Forrest recalls. “He was just the right balance of playful and friendly, but also very sweet and mellow.” Vincent also looked a lot like the cat Forrest had as a child, which he said made him feel like “a familiar friend.”
The couple’s instincts proved correct as Vincent continued to impress them. Forrest says, “He let us pet him without any hesitation, and he seemed so confident and happy that we decided to start the adoption papers right away.” Without missing a beat, they brought Vincent home that very same day, which happened to be February 15—the day after Valentine’s Day and 10 days after the cat’s arrival at the ASPCA. What’s more, the five cats who came with Vincent found homes by the end of that month, too.
Back at Forrest’s apartment, Vincent settled in as if he had lived there forever. “As soon as we let him out of his pet carrier, he casually walked around the whole apartment as if taking inventory of his new habitat, and then jumped up on the couch and took turns sitting on both of our laps,” Forrest says. “He never went through a skittish or awkward adjustment period. From the first day we brought him home, he’s slept on our bed with us each night and instantly made us feel like a little family.”
What can we say? When an adoption is right, it’s just right, and Vincent and Forrest were clearly made for each other. Vincent waited his whole life to find an adopter like Forrest, and we are thrilled that he found a perfect place to call home. And when Forrest says, “We couldn’t imagine our lives without Vincent,” we know this is one Happy Tail that will last forever.