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A round-up of fun, inspiring news tidbits from the animal welfare world.

From Animal Sheltering Magazine January/February 2013

This just in

CNN’s Headline News anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell is as well-known for her support of animal welfare as she is for her coverage of some of America’s most spectacular criminal trials. Her shows have earned her recognition from many animal advocacy organizations, including Genesis Awards from The HSUS. Her latest venture, a weekly dog adoption segment called Rico’s Rescues, was inspired by an interview with John Tortorella, a National Hockey League coach who is passionate about promoting the adoption of shelter pets. Tortorella brought along Benny, a pooch in need of a home; the show was flooded with calls from viewers, and Benny was quickly adopted. Velez-Mitchell realized that her show was an ideal soapbox for broadcasting the reality of the euthanasia of millions of homeless pets and for highlighting the wonderful dogs available in shelters and rescue groups. The segment, named for a Chihuahua adopted in Puerto Rico by Velez-Mitchell’s mother, got started in September and so far is featuring dogs available at Southern California rescue groups.

All in favor, say ‘eye’

What’s the connection between babies and kittens, besides infinite cuteness? In Philadelphia, up to 100 babies may be born in a busy week at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and up to 100 kittens a day flow into in the city’s animal shelters during the height of kitten season. The connection between the two is veterinarian Rachael Kreisler, a lecturer at Penn’s Matthew J. Ryan Veterinary Hospital, who is involved with the veterinary school’s shelter medicine program. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Kreisler heard that the human hospital’s obstetric nurses treat each newborn’s eyes with erythromycin ointment to prevent infection and must throw away the small tubes after one use. Kreisler figured if the antibiotic worked on humans, it could work on kittens; if the leftover ointment could be used, it would help solve two chronic shelter problems—shortage of money and shortage of medicine. Research determined that the risk of cross-species contamination was negligible, and after obtaining the appropriate clearances, Kreisler pitched an ingenious recycling program: Have obstetric nurses place the partially used tubes of ointment in a designated box for pickup by the municipal animal shelter. The program has been a big hit; the Daily News reports that the nurses are thrilled to be helping homeless kittens. The “eyes” have it!

No Beast Feast

Despite the event’s name, beasties were indeed present at the No Beast Feast, a fundraising dinner held by the Friends of the Dearborn Animal Shelter in Dearborn, Mich. Cuddly canines and affectionate felines from the shelter held the spotlight at the third annual dinner, which featured delicious vegan cuisine (hence the “No Beast” in the title) prepared by area restaurants and culinary students from Henry Ford Community College. One hundred and forty-four attendees enjoyed door prizes, a silent auction, and a presentation on the benefits of a plant-based diet by VegNews columnist Dr. Kerri Saunders. The benefit generated more than $10,000 for the shelter’s animals and spread the word about the appeal of vegan food. “When I try to sell tickets, sometimes people grimace when I say it’s going to be a vegan meal,” says board member Jo Navarre. “I promise them that if they don’t like the food, I’ll give them their money back. I haven’t had to give anyone their money back.”

Body count

A lighthearted event in Boulder, Colo., shone a light on a serious subject. The recent rash of dog illnesses and deaths caused by tainted jerky treats made in China prompted Bixbi, makers of organic dog treats and food sourced and produced in the United States, to host Play-Dead-A-Palooza, an attempt to set the record for most dogs simultaneously playing dead. In September, 11 dogs reported to Scott Carpenter Park, where they were required to lie down together for at least five seconds. Owners were allowed to lie down with their dogs, but they were not counted in the statistics. The event was witnessed by a representative of RecordSetter, a website that allows you to create your own world records. The dogs successfully lay still for the required five seconds, setting the bar high for the rest of the world’s canines.

We’re All Different But We’re All Kitty Cats

That’s the title of a planned series of books by Peter J. Goodman, a Washington, D.C., writer who uses cat characters to facilitate conversations with young children about touchy subjects. The issue of bullying is tackled in his recently released first volume, The First Day of School, in which Carlos the hairless cat is mocked for his lack of fur. The Montgomery County Humane Society in Rockville, Md., is partnering with Goodman and his publisher, dreamBIG Press, to raise awareness about bullying by incorporating the book into its humane education program for schools. While the book is not really about cats, it takes advantage of the natural affinity that kids have for animals, says BJ Altschul, the shelter’s humane education director. “The animals make it easier [for children] to identify with what’s going on.” The book’s message dovetails with the shelter’s mission of teaching compassion for all living things. “It gives an opportunity to talk about animal behavior,” says Altschul. “… A lot of the principles will be the same. … How others have treated you is a big factor in how you treat others or animals.” Information about the book and links to humane education lesson plans are available at

About the Author

Animal Sheltering is for everyone who cares about the animals in their community—from shelter directors and animal care and control officers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians and more.