Home to an estimated 3,000 puppy mills—far more than any other state—Missouri has rightly earned the nickname “Puppy Mill Capital of America.” Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. The overcrowding and lack of basic hygiene, veterinary care and exercise that are the hallmark of puppy mills create puppies with numerous health and social issues—but it is the breeding dogs, the ones who never get to leave, who suffer the most.
However, help is on the way! Missourians for the Protection of Dogs—a coalition made up of the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the U.S., the Humane Society of Missouri and the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation—is sponsoring a landmark ballot initiative to put the Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act before the state’s voters in November 2010. If the act reaches the ballot and passes, it will prohibit some of the worst abuses prevalent in Missouri’s commercial dog kennels—but the first step is gathering 130,000 signatures of support from Missouri voters by the end of April.
“The Missouri Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act is a crucial step in combating some of the most horrific cruelty perpetuated by commercial breeders in Missouri,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “It will provide dogs with basic humane care, including sufficient food, water, housing and necessary veterinary care—things that, unfortunately, are sorely lacking in many commercial breeding facilities.”
With only a few weeks left to go before the April 27 deadline, the pressure is on. Several ASPCA staffers have volunteered their time to help count and process the flood of petition signatures, and are currently on the ground in Missouri.
“I am so happy to be part of this historic grassroots effort,” says Tawnya Mosgrove, an Illinois-based member of our Government Relations department. “Our hope is not only to help the dogs in Missouri, but that other states will follow suit with similar initiatives of their own. The work here is hard, but the end result will be worth every blister on my finger!”
If your pet has been showing signs of itchy discomfort lately, clouds of potent springtime pollen may be to blame. Just like people, cats and dogs can be allergic to common environmental substances including pollen, mold and dust mites—and they can also be allergic to ingredients in their diets and to fleas. According to the ASPCA, more than 20% of pets may suffer from some sort of allergy. Most cats and dogs who are going to develop allergies do so in their first years, although adult onset also occurs.
Common signs of allergies include recurrent ear or skin infections and scratching, licking, chewing/biting or face-wiping; the face, ears, armpits and paws are most often the targets of a pet’s distress.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, talk to your veterinarian, who can provide short-term relief by prescribing itch-control medication, and then help determine the source of the allergy or refer you to a specialist in veterinary dermatology.
The first step toward an allergy diagnosis will generally be a skin scraping to check for mites, yeast, and/or bacterial infections. Your vet might prescribe special shampoos or topical sprays and frequent bathing, which solves the problem for many pets.
If not, the next easiest thing to test for is food allergies, which will require you to put your pet on a strict hypoallergenic diet for several months (your vet will prescribe the food) to see if there is a change in his condition. No treats or animal-based chewies are allowed during this period!
The next option is blood testing. It’s a little pricey, but provides definitive confirmation of contact/inhalant allergies. If your pet tests positive for environmental allergies (mold, pollen, cat dander, etc.), your vet will analyze the results, along with your pet’s clinical signs and history, to devise a treatment plan. This may be as simple as changes around the house, or your pet may need drug therapy or allergy shots (immunotherapy).
To learn more about pet allergies and what you can do to make your pet more comfortable, please visit our Pet Care section for specific information about cats or dogs.
Are you looking to make a real difference in the lives of animals? We’re searching for public and private shelter leaders and volunteers to take their town to the next level by vastly increasing pet adoptions in their community. To sweeten the deal, we’re launching a friendly competition to inspire innovation and showcase successful, life-saving programs.
Officially launched on April 8, the ASPCA $100K Challenge will award more than $125,000 in prizes, including a grand prize grant of $100,000! To qualify for the grand prize competition, shelters need to save a minimum of 300 more cats, dogs, kittens and puppies from August through October 2010, compared with the same three-month period in 2009. Beyond that, the winner will be the shelter that saves the most additional animals from August through October 2010. The ASPCA will also grant $25,000 to the shelter that most inspires and engages its community to get involved in promoting pet adoptions and reuniting lost animals with their pet parents. (And yes, the same shelter can win both big prizes!)
“Unique from our other grants that fund specific programs, the ASPCA $100K Challenge is a competition to inspire creative solutions for increasing pet adoptions and improving return-to-owner rates,” says ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “The Challenge will spark innovation and draw more community support to help shelters help animals.”
So hurry and register today or help us spread the word to your local animal welfare leaders! We’re accepting applications through June 30, but the Challenge is limited to 50 shelters. The official competition period is August 1 through October 31, and winners will be announced in early December 2010.
Under 25 and passionate about animal welfare? Apply for an Animal Action Grant, sponsored by the ASPCA and DoSomething.org! Six grants will be awarded to project proposals that have the potential to increase adoptions, decrease the euthanasia of shelter animals and reunite more people with lost pets.
Visit DoSomething.org’s animal welfare section to learn more about the specific actions proven to help improve the lives of homeless animals across the country. Then submit your application by April 30! Two $1,000 and four $500 grants will be awarded, and the winners will be announced in May. Special consideration will be given to ideas that promote innovative solutions for returning lost pets to their forever homes.
All grants are open to citizens of the U.S. and Canada who are under age 25. DoSomething.org completes the initial screening for eligibility, and then forwards the applications to an ASPCA jury, which makes the final selection. For more information about our Animal Action Grants, please visit DoSomething.org.
Spike, the 11-month-old English Bulldog whose brutal beating was caught on camera phone, is on the fast track to happily-ever-after. After multiple surgeries and an extended recuperation time, the ASPCA is thrilled to have placed Spike in a home with an experienced pet parent familiar with taking care of animals with special needs.
Due to the overwhelming attention his case received, Spike's new mom prefers to remain anonymous—but rest assured folks, she is overjoyed by the new addition to her family. "Spike is doing fantastic," says mom. "He's such a big mush and I'm completely smitten."
Apparently, Spike's new pup-brother Petey is, too. "The two of them hit it off right away," she declares. "Bosom buddies, they are always together and you can tell that their friendship has really helped Spike regain some of his confidence."
Aside from his spirits, little Spike's physical condition has improved as well. "Spike will probably always have difficulty seeing and walking," explains his new mom. "But that doesn't stop him from getting around—he's full of that great puppy energy!"
Spike's former owner, Maria Aguilar, is expected in court on April 12.