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  • Florida Southern College

Love what you’ve done with the place


hat does New York’s Guggenheim Museum have in common with a cat’s favorite hangout, a cardboard box? Not much, except that Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed the iconic museum, also once designed a cat condo. Now Wright and cats are teaming up once again, thanks to Florida Southern College, home to 12 Wright-designed buildings and a colony of almost 100 feral cats. Six shelters based on Wright’s distinctive style are being constructed for the cats on the Lakeland campus with custom-made concrete blocks left over from a renovation project. SPCA Florida will provide trap-neuter-return services and ongoing health care for the felines, while members of Alpha Chi Omega sorority will take charge of feeding them and maintaining the shelters. Wright on!
  • BluePearl Veterinary Partners

Walking dead does good deed

Professional zombie Jeremy Zelkowitz has shown us that we have nothing (much) to fear from the undead. The 22-year-old Brooklyn resident plays a zombie on the streets of New York’s Times Square to promote a local haunted house attraction. While stumbling creepily along one night in March, he noticed a tuxedo cat running in and out of traffic and trying to enter restaurants. Realizing this was a grave matter, Zelkowitz gave chase, drawing quite a few stares, he told the New York Daily News. He scooped the kitty up and took him to BluePearl Veterinary Partners, a specialty and emergency animal hospital in midtown Manhattan. A microchip scan revealed that the feline, named Disaster, belonged to Jimmy Helliesen, a New York City police officer who fosters stray cats he encounters on his beat. Disaster had disappeared from Helliesen’s Long Island home two years ago after clawing through a window screen. When the hospital contacted Helliesen, “he couldn’t believe it and thought we were playing a practical joke on him,” said Steve Baker, the hospital’s administrator. Disaster is back home, but we’re hoping he and Zelkowitz will star in a zom-rom-kitty-com later on.

Spay-tial delivery

Thanks to the Maryland state legislature, the stork will soon get a much-needed vacation. In nearly unanimous votes, both the House and Senate approved bills to establish a state-financed fund to provide free spay and neuter surgeries to low-income pet owners. More good news: It won’t cost taxpayers a cent. Funds will come from a surcharge on registrations paid by pet food manufacturers for each product sold in the state. Even if the manufacturers pass the cost of the higher fees on to the consumer, the average increase would be about 36 cents per year, according to Save Maryland Pets, an advocacy group that worked on behalf of the bill. A task force found that similar programs in other states have significantly reduced shelter euthanasia rates, saving lives and taxpayer dollars. In New Hampshire, the euthanasia rate has declined by 77 percent since a state-funded spay/neuter program was initiated in 1994. Maryland’s program is slated to take effect in October. For more information, visit

  • Peter Baxter/

Easing their way

When veterinarian Dani McVety was considering names for her new practice in 2010, she thought about the elderly Chihuahua she had euthanized while his owner held him tightly in her arms. “[He] was surrounded by love,” says the Lutz, Fla., resident. Thus Lap of Love was born. Inspired by the volunteer work she did for a human hospice during college, McVety guides owners through the emotional roller coaster of coping with the ends of their pets’ lives, helping them determine what’s in their companions’ best interests, providing hospice care, and, at the end, euthanizing pets in the comfort of their own homes. Within months of going online, McVety started receiving calls from veterinarians all over the country, asking for advice on how to set up a practice like hers. Her veterinary school classmate and business partner Mary Gardner, based in Oregon, developed a custom software program which allows the pair to coach other veterinarians through the process of setting up a business. The Lap of Love network now includes 50 veterinarians in 16 states. Visitors to the website can access information about hospice and euthanasia services, diseases, nursing care, and quality-of-life issues.

Hospice care is rarely addressed in veterinary schools, says McVety, something that she feels is a gaping hole in the curriculum. “It’s the most important appointment we have with a family, and they don’t teach us anything about it.” She and Gardner are setting out to remedy the situation—they’ve been invited to teach an end-of-life class at their alma mater, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

Read the rest of this issue from Animal Sheltering magazine

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