A team of three ASPCA shelter medicine experts and one veterinary representative from Texas A&M are traveling to Austin this week to spend two days at the Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC), assessing the shelter's programs and working with leaders to develop a plan for the future. TLAC is a city-funded, open-intake facility and ASPCA partner shelter. The visiting experts hope to gain insight into the shelter's daily operations and a holistic understanding of its programs.
"An on-site visit provides a chance to explore together with the shelter opportunities that may improve animal health and welfare and ultimately save more lives in Austin," says Dr. Miranda Spindel, ASPCA Director of Veterinary Outreach and one of the attending experts.
This week's assessment is being performed as part of TLAC's participation in the ASPCA Partnership program, a collaboration with communities and shelters nationwide to save more animals' lives. The program emphasizes reuniting lost pets with families, increasing adoptions, promoting spay/neuter solutions and supporting feral cats. As part of the program, all ASPCA partner communities receive assessments at no cost to the participants. The other Austin partners—Animal Trustees of Austin, Austin Humane Society and emanciPET—will receive their assessments later this year.
Three cheers to the Lady Pantherz, an all women's motorcycle club, for sponsoring a successful charity softball tournament last month in Queens, NY. The game went down on July 31, and was complete with great food, raffle prizes, and the spinning talents of a local DJ. The group proudly raised $1,500-all of which benefited the ASPCA.
"We have been hosting annual charity events since our group began nearly 10 years ago," says long time Pantherz member, Phyllis Younker. "This year we didn't even bother voting, we knew we wanted to support the ASPCA."
With nearly 200 in attendance, the fun kicked-off with 10 teams taking to the field and competing for the winning slot in the single-elimination tournament. For a $25 registration fee, each contestant was provided with a team t-shirt, player trophy, sponsor certificate and an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet. Aside from watching the big game, spectators were eager to snap up raffle tickets and groove to the beats while learning about the ASPCA's mission. Orange wristbands, ASPCA key rings, educational literature and other goodies were all supplied by the ASPCA.
"It was a great deal for everyone, and we made it cost effective," says Younker. "While we had to purchase some of the supplies, we also reached out to local businesses to help support our efforts-we received donations from BJs Wholesale Club and Dick's Sporting Goods, as well as raffle prizes from local shops."
Taking pride in their efforts to help fight animal cruelty, the Lady Pantherz-along with their pooches-capped off the eventful day with a feel-good sigh of accomplishment.
"There was a lot that went into pulling this event off, but in the end it was all about the animals," says Younker. "We are more than a group of women who enjoy riding motorcycles-we're bikers who love our community, our pets and the ASPCA!"
For more information about launching your own fundraising efforts on behalf of the ASPCA, please contact Claire McCabe at [email protected].
On Tuesday, August 3, a citizens’ initiative to promote more humane treatment of dogs in Missouri’s large-scale commercial dog kennels was certified by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office. This means that the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will appear on the state’s November ballot as "Proposition B."
"We are absolutely thrilled with the overwhelming showing of support for this initiative,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “If passed by voters in November, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of dogs in Missouri's commercial kennels, and hopefully set a precedent for other states.”
More than 190,000 signatures were submitted in May to the Secretary of State’s office to qualify the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act for the statewide ballot. (See our April blog report from St. Louis to see some of the work that went into processing the signatures.) The ASPCA would like to thank the Missouri members of our Advocacy Brigade, the hundreds of grassroots volunteers across the state who propelled the campaign to success in signature gathering, and the tens of thousands of Missourians who showed their support for the humane treatment of dogs.
The Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act will improve the lives of dogs by requiring large-scale breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with such basics as sufficient food and clean water, necessary veterinary care, adequate housing and space, as well as access to regular exercise. Lawmakers in Iowa and Oklahoma enacted puppy mill legislation in those states earlier this year—after Missouri, they are the two largest dog-breeding states in the nation. In 2009, 10 states approved legislation to address puppy mill problems.
Missourians for the Protection of Dogs is comprised of the Humane Society of Missouri, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States, and is backed by veterinarians, businesses, animal welfare organizations and thousands of individuals. Details on the ballot initiative are available at missourifordogs.com.
*Paid for by Missourians for the Protection of Dogs / YES! on Prop B, Judy Peil, Treasurer
Earlier this year, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents arrived at a New York City apartment to find that dozens of cats and kittens had overtaken the small space. The cats were severely malnourished, and many suffered from upper respiratory disease. There were no litter boxes, and the floor was covered in several inches of feces and urine. Living among the filth and debris was an 85-year-old woman suffering from dementia—she had been hoarding animals for years.
Animal hoarding is a complex and intricate social issue with far-reaching effects that encompass mental health, animal welfare and public safety concerns. Victims can include cats, dogs, reptiles, rodents, birds, exotics and even farm animals. While it’s not clear why people become animal hoarders, current research suggests the cause is often attachment disorder in conjunction with personality disorders, paranoia, dementia, depression and other mental illness. The hoarder does not intend to inflict harm on animals, and in most cases, the hoarder can no longer take care of himself, much less multiple animals.
"We often see that animal hoarders have experienced some traumatic event or loss in their lives," says Fiona Knight, Cruelty Intervention Advocacy Manager at the ASPCA. “Usually, they are very lonely and isolated people—and the animals become their primary source of bonding and interaction.”
While the ASPCA does pursue cruelty charges when appropriate, in many cases, prosecution is not the answer. Not only are such cases difficult to successfully prosecute, but once released, hoarders are overwhelmingly likely to resume collecting excessive numbers of animals. The solution lies in supplying hoarders with the resources and tools they need to keep them from repeating their destructive patterns.
“As a clinical social worker, it is my job to go in and work with the hoarders. Not only do I educate them on the problems caused by having so many animals, but I also connect them with appropriate services,” says Knight. “Whether individuals need a therapist who specializes in hoarding, a cleaning service or the assistance of adult protective services, we provide the resources. Our first priority is to remove the animals and provide them with immediate treatment, but our job doesn’t end there.”
On July 12, Beth Hoskins was charged with 114 counts of animal cruelty, in addition to the 10 counts previously filed, for severely neglecting nearly 200 horses, dogs and cats on her property in Aurora, NY. Earlier this year, the SPCA Serving Erie County seized 73 horses and dozens of cats and dogs from Hoskins’ farm. The ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team subsequently oversaw the sheltering and care of the horses. Hoskins now faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine per count.
Despite the pending charges, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia ordered the SPCA to return 40 of the seized horses to Hoskins. The unexpected ruling was accompanied by the conditions that Hoskins hire additional employees to care for the animals and that adequate care be provided. The SPCA retains the right to inspect the returned horses and to monitor their care (the remaining 33 horses are still under its authority).
“While the animals were under our care, they received medical, physical and environmental enrichment vital to their daily well-being—more importantly, time was spent helping rebuild their broken spirits,” says Jeff Eyre, ASPCA Northeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. “I can only hope the same level of care will be maintained under these new circumstances.”
Hoskins pleaded not guilty to all charges and was released without bail. She is ordered to return to court on August 18.