We’ve all heard of spring, summer, winter and fall, but are you familiar with kitten season? Sounds cute, but this time of year can be devastating for shelters across the country. Every year, between the months of March and November, animal shelters experience a flood of homeless cats and newborn kittens in need of care and fostering.
Becoming a foster parent is a vital way you can make a life-saving difference. Volunteers provide temporary care for pets in their own homes—receiving all necessary food, supplies and veterinary care.
"The more kittens who get into foster homes, the more space there is at the shelter," says Senior Manager of the ASPCA Adoption Center Diane Wilkerson. “By offering your home to a kitten in need, you are saving lives.”
Without loving homes or resources to support the influx of newborn felines, many shelters are often forced to make the difficult choice to euthanize. But you can help. Become a foster parent and ensure that all animals get the loving homes they deserve—we simply can’t do it alone!
Last week we told you that the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team deployed to locations in the South and Midwest to rescue and shelter animals affected by the tornadoes and flooding in the region. Here’s the latest on what our teams are doing, and how they’re preparing to accomplish as much as possible in the coming weeks.
- Pemiscot County, Missouri: ASPCA Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response Kyle Held is heading up a sheltering mission in conjunction with the Caruthersville Humane Society. More than 80 animals, including a goat, are receiving care under this mission, and more are expected to arrive as flooding continues. Many animals have been removed from the area with the help of our shelter partners. At least 19 animals were rescued over the weekend, and more rescue missions are planned.
- Faulkner County, Arkansas: A team led by ASPCA Shelter Operations Manager Bonnie Dean is assisting with sheltering and conducting field assessments in Arkansas. The team canvassed a large area and handed out pet food to local residents, and roughly 100 dogs, 12 horses and three kittens are being sheltered in a rodeo arena.
- Shelby County, Tennessee: As the Mississippi River rises, evacuations in this area have increased. Led by ASPCA Southeast Direct of Field Investigations and Response Kathryn Destreza, the team here has been helping local organizations develop a plan for an emergency shelter in preparation for evacuation. Another team, along with PetSmart Charities (PMC), spent the weekend setting up a distribution center point in Shelby County. Three PMC trailers arrived loaded with food, sheltering supplies, 25,000 square feet of chain length fencing and crates for 2,300 animals.
“The ASPCA is extremely grateful for the collaboration between national and local agencies that combined efforts to help animals in need,” says Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA and our partners, including Memphis Animal Services, the Humane Society of Memphis, PetSmart Charities, Code 3 Associates, American Humane Association, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Humane Society of the United States, are committed to a collaborative effort to help pet parents and animals impacted by the recent chain of natural disasters. We will continue to do everything we can to help these communities as long as we’re needed.”
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more breaking news from the field.
Last week we told you how disappointed we are with the state of Missouri's so-called compromise agreement on puppy mill reform. Spearheaded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, representatives from the dog breeding industry, and a few agriculture special-interest groups, the compromise falls far short of the provisions that Missouri voters approved just a few months ago.
The compromise removes many of the key provisions of Prop B, including the requirement that dogs get rest between breeding cycles as well as the limit on the number of breeding dogs a breeder may keep. It also removes the requirement for prompt veterinary treatment of an illness or injury, gives dogs less space in cages, and replaces criminal penalties for violations with civil penalties, except for repeat offenders.
Despite our disappointment, we are hopeful that the Missouri Department of Agriculture will adopt regulations that will improve the treatment of dogs at puppy mills. Over the next few months, we’ll watch closely to see if abuses in Missouri’s large-scale breeding facilities continue unabated. If the situation does not improve, we’ll consider another ballot initiative to restore Prop B’s standards.
The ASPCA is also joining other animal welfare groups in actively supporting the Voter Protection Act, a proposed constitutional amendment to require a three-fourths vote in both houses of the legislature, or a subsequent vote of the people, in order to repeal or amend any citizen-passed initiative in Missouri. The Voter Protection Act would provide constitutional protections for citizen ballot initiatives and prevent the will of the people from being discarded or overturned like it was with Prop B. This important piece of legislation would also mean any future ballot initiative on puppy mills in Missouri will have greater long-lasting protection.
For all the latest news about puppy mill reform, please stay tuned to ASPCA.org.
Guest Blog by Betsy Dribben, ASPCA Vice President of Federal Affairs.Betsy Dribben is an attorney who has worked as a staff member in both the U.S. House and Senate. She currently lobbies Capitol Hill on federal issues for the ASPCA.
At recent hearings of public witnesses held by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies focused on a wide range of proposed federal budget cuts and how deep they would go. At first, the room was a sea of dark suits—until Ms. Madeleine Pickens, a petite woman with long blonde hair dressed in country and western style garb, along with her supporters in Native American dress, plunged into the buttoned-down crowd. Madeleine Pickens, head of Saving America’s Mustangs Foundation,brought passion to her testimony, which was not so much on budget cuts as it was an articulate expression of her frustration with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Pickens has proposed a plan to work with the U.S. government to move herds of wild horses to her Nevada acreage for ecotourism purposes. However, the BLM’s negotiations with her have yielded no results in favor of saving wild horses and burros.
Along with her were two wounded warriors, their service dogs by their side. Ms. Pickens referred to those who had come before her asking for funding for historical monuments. “How have these national living symbols of American history [the horses] been devalued as less deserving than a National Historic Stone Monument?” she asked Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID), Ranking Member Jim Moran (D-VA) and others. She warned that the cost of confining wild horses is “out of control” and that the BLM’s current program of roundups and holding pens was “not sustainable.” Then, in a dramatic gesture, she pointed to the large packing cartons she’d brought along: “These are some 72,000 emails from the public stating how horrified they are about what BLM is doing.”
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) politely but firmly took on Pickens as she finished her comments. “You are very reverent about horses,” she said, “but there are so many horses destroying grass resources needed by other species like elk. Those horses are feral to this land. They tamp the land down with their solid hooves. And when it rains, that tamped down soil causes water to run off.”
If she was expecting a soft-spoken response from Ms. Pickens, she got just the opposite. “All this stuff about desecrating the land, where does it come from?” Pickens firmly inquired. It was clear from her statement and body language that she was not buying Rep. Lummis’ argument.
With very little time left before the Subcommittee had to leave the hearing, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) weighed in. In a strong voice, he warned “These horse roundups and holdings are costing the U.S. government tons of money. In early years it was $20 million, and now it’s up to $70 million. Ms. Pickens has had an idea on the table for three years, and no one at the BLM wanted to listen.”
He also weighed in on Rep. Lummis’ comments: “As Ms. Pickens said, ‘to say that the horses are doing damage to the ecosystem stretches credulity.’”
At the request of local authorities and animal welfare groups, the ASPCA has deployed responders to Faulkner County, Arkansas; Franklin County, Kentucky; Pemiscot County, Missouri; and Shelby County, Tennessee, to organize temporary shelters and transport emergency supplies provided by PetSmart Charities. The ASPCA has helped more than 200 animals over the last two days.
“A natural disaster can produce immediate suffering, and we’re pleased to be in a position to provide relief and ensure that any displaced animals receive appropriate care,” says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response.
Many weather reports are predicting an above-average risk of flooding in the Southeast and Midwest over the coming weeks. Your best move is to develop an emergency plan that accounts for the safety of your pets. Here’s how:
Obtain a rescue alert sticker, which will let rescuers know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible and that it includes: 1) the types and number of pets in your household; 2) the name of your veterinarian; and 3) your veterinarian's phone number.
Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis.
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification.
Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. Do not leave your pets behind.
Keep a pet emergency kit and supplies handy with items such as medical records, water, pet food, medications and pet first aid supplies.
"The best thing you can do for yourself and your pet in the event of an emergency is to be prepared," says Rickey. “It’s also crucial that residents plan to take pets with them when evacuating. If it’s not safe for you to stay behind, it’s not safe for your pets.”
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more news about the FIR Team’s rescue work.