The ASPCA is thrilled to report that 139 adoptions took place at the Elk County Independence Day Adoption Event, and that the remaining cats have been placed with ASPCA partner agencies throughout the country. The nearly 400 severely neglected felines were discovered in late June, living in deplorable conditions at a “sanctuary” known as the Animal Friends of Elk and Cameron Counties in St. Mary’s, PA.
While many of the cats tested positive for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, it didn’t stop families from opening their hearts and homes to many sweet-tempered cats and kittens.
“The community really stepped forward to support this adoption event,” says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. “One of the most surreal moments of my entire career was standing at the event site wondering if anyone would show up. When a line of 50 people walked up the hill with crates in their hands, I nearly broke down.” The two-day event attracted more than 500 potential adopters.
A crew of nearly 65 first responders, including staff and volunteers from the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team, the American Humane Association and PetSmart Charities assisted in the initial seizure, sheltering management and care of the rescued cats. A team of veterinarians, led by Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics, conducted full medical exams and treated any immediate concerns. Also on-site was the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic, which provided critical spay/neuter services.
“This rescue took an incredible amount of teamwork, patience and faith on everyone's part,” says Rickey. “With so many cats placed, I am proud to say we can walk away from this operation knowing we accomplished something very special.”
The ASPCA is immensely grateful for the support of regional organizations and ASPCA partner agencies that offered temporary housing—and eventual, permanent placement—of more than 150 of the rescued cats, including:
Bucks County SPCA, PA Humane Society of Berks County, PA Chautauqua County Humane Society, NY SPCA Serving Erie County, NY Atlanta Humane, GA Good Mews, GA SPCA Tampa Bay, FL Cat Depot, FL SPCA Suncoast, FL Columbia Animal Shelter, SC Noah's Ark, NJ One More Smith, NJ
In April, we put out a call to animal welfare leaders across the country to enter the ASPCA $100K Challenge to increase pet adoptions and save more animals’ lives. This friendly competition aims to inspire innovation and, to sweeten the deal, we’re offering $125,000 in prizes! Over the next two months, we’ll introduce you to all 50 of the selected contestants, but to get started, here’s a peek at our first six challengers!
Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) & Helping Animals Live On (HALO) Phoenix, AZ: AAWL and HALO are loyal partners in the fight against pet overpopulation in Phoenix and Maricopa County. Above all, these organizations engage their community by spreading the word that “shelter pets are not broken, undesirable animals—they are victims of circumstances beyond their control.”
Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), FT Worth, TX: A multi-faceted organization, HSNT brings a “can-do” attitude to the Challenge as well as several unique adoption events, like this summer’s Extreme Mutt Makeover. Long-term goals include constructing a new facility to incorporate adoptions and educational needs.
City of San Jose Animal Care Center (ACS), San Jose, CA: The folks at ACS describe their organization as “big, busy and humane.” A young, full-service shelter, this contender has made a big splash with its new Feral Freedom Program. ACS’s commitment to trap-neuter-return (TNR) makes them a tough competitor in this Challenge.
South Suburban Humane Society (SSHS), Chicago Heights, IL: What makes SSHS one to watch? The organization has a dedicated volunteer base and a compassionate staff, and rigorously promotes low-cost spay/neuter. Taking home the grand prize will facilitate renovating kennels and cat housing and the construction of a new “kitten nursery.”
The SPCA of Wake County, Raleigh, NC: The SPCA of Wake County wants you to know one thing: “Our pets may or may not be purebred—but they are pure fun.” The organization’s staff loves what they do and spends their days brainstorming innovative solutions. Spreading the word with a “no-holds-barred mentality” makes this contestant a top pick.
Jacksonville Humane Society (JHS), Jacksonville, FL: Sometimes the wise elders hold the secret, and JHS has been saving animals’ lives since 1885. The organization engages its community by traditional and nontraditional means and believes “an animal can have a life-changing effect on a person by showing them a love they never knew existed.”
Check in next week, when we’ll introduce you to our next six challengers!
“Todd, keep an eye on Beau—he’s going to throw up,” said Robyn Salvo of Jackson, NJ, as she sent the Salvos’ eight-year-old German Shepherd to join her husband in the backyard. It was a regular Saturday night three weeks ago; Beau had been fine all day, but was now retching and acting distressed.
Once in the yard, Beau squatted as if to defecate, but nothing happened. He continued to pace, pant and dry heave. As Todd put his arm around the dog to comfort him, he felt that Beau’s stomach was hard as a rock. “At that point, I knew he was in trouble,” Todd recalls. “Twenty years ago, before I got my first German Shepherd, I read a book about the breed. I somehow remembered what I had read about bloat and stomach torsion—and Beau was showing several of the classic signs. I knew that if he didn’t get help right away, he could die.”
Food bloat is a condition—rarely life-threatening—in which the stomach swells because a dog has eaten too much, too fast. However, the word “bloat” is often used to refer to gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), or stomach torsion, a much more serious condition in which the stomach twists around in the body. GDV is fatal if not treated promptly. A dog who overeats and has a full, uncomfortable stomach is not the same as a dog who suffers from GDV, and a veterinarian is the only one who can distinguish between the two and make the proper diagnosis. While the causes of GDV are unknown, deep-chested breeds such as Shepherds, Boxers, Akitas and Great Danes are more prone to being stricken.
After calling ahead to see if there was a surgeon on site, Todd and Robyn put Beau in their car and raced to the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic. Beau was X-rayed, and within 10 minutes a vet told the Salvos that their dog did indeed have GDV—his stomach had flipped. Less than two hours after he began exhibiting symptoms, he was rushed into emergency surgery, where 20% of his stomach had to be removed due to tissue death. At that point, the Salvos were told that his chance of survival was 50-50.
Happily, Beau is a strong dog and pulled through with flying colors. He is back home with his family, and his stomach is now attached to his abdominal cavity wall so it cannot twist out of place again.
It was extremely lucky that the Salvos were home when Beau’s GDV struck—but when it came to taking correct action, Todd’s knowledge, rather than luck, made all the difference. “The biggest lesson from this that I hope to pass on to others is to research breeds and their potential health problems before you bring home a dog,” says Todd. “Don’t choose a dog based solely on looks. You need to find out what kinds of medical issues you might be in for, especially as they age. After finding out, if you still want that breed—as I did with German Shepherds—you’ll be better prepared to help them if something goes wrong.”
On June 17, the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response Team was deployed to Waynesboro, TN, to assist the Wayne County Sheriff's Department with a critical hoarding intervention. A total of 85 dogs—including German Shepherds, Labradors and Hound mixes—were discovered in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions on a property owned by an elderly man. The dogs were contained in large pens, chained to posts throughout the yard and found roaming the property. Many suffered from health problems, including mange and heartworm.
"In this hoarding case, a man became overwhelmed by the number of dogs in his care and he needed help," says Kyle Held, the ASPCA's Midwest Regional Director of Field Investigations and Response. "We removed the dogs from his property, are providing them with medical and behavioral evaluations and will ultimately find them loving homes."
Twelve of the rescued dogs have arrived at the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City, where they are undergoing medical treatment. The remaining dogs were transferred to ASPCA partner agencies, including the Nashville Humane Association and the Atlanta Humane Society.
Early this morning, we lost Senator Robert C. Byrd, a great spokesman and champion for animals. Senator Byrd—the longest-serving member of Congress—was one of our most vocal and impassioned statesmen on behalf of animal protection. He personified the best of politics—standing up for the underdog both literally and figuratively. Whether he was speaking out against blatant animal cruelty or seeking to ensure that laws like the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Slaughter Act were adequately funded, Senator Byrd made it clear that animals really matter—they enrich us—and, as a result, we are responsible for their humane care and well-being every day of our lives.