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Mutterings

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

From Animal Sheltering magazine March/April 2015

Betsy McFarland (right), vice president of Companion Animals at The HSUS, talks with a local resident at the grand opening of the new Pets for Life center in Chicago. Rocker Chrissie Hynde made headlines by arriving for her concert at the Beacon Theatre in New York last fall in a horseless eCarriage. Team Peak Performance finished the Adventure Racing World Championship with one more teammate (and four extra legs) than they had when they started.

SNR by the Numbers

Advocates of trap-neuter-return (TNR) and shelter-neuter-return (SNR) have long spoken about their power to decrease shelter cat intakes and euthanasia. Now there’s more data to back up these claims.

In an article published in PeerJ, San Jose Animal Care & Services (SJACS) in California shared the results of its foray into SNR. In 2009, in spite of low-cost spay/neuter programs and ongoing efforts to reduce euthanasia of healthy or treatable cats, impoundments were on the rise. In March 2010, SJACS implemented an SNR program in an attempt to control the overall feral cat population, as an alternative to euthanasia.

Over four years, 10,080 healthy feral cats (of 11,423 impounded in the municipal shelter during the same time period) were altered and returned to the sites where they were caught. During that time, cat and kitten impounds decreased 29 percent. Additionally, euthanasia decreased from more than 70 percent of feline intakes in 2009 to 23 percent in 2014. Further, euthanasia for upper respiratory disease was nearly eliminated, dropping by a whopping 99 percent. No other program changes were implemented during the four-year period, so the authors are confident in attributing the results to SNR.

Read the full article, which includes details on efforts to measure how animal control programs can affect different segments of cat populations.

In It for Life

It was high fives and tail wags last August at the launch of the Pets for Life (PFL) center in Chicago. The opening marks the third of PFL’s physical centers (others are located in Los Angeles and Atlanta), which serve as community hubs for outreach and engagement, offering information and services such as free dog training and pet supplies.

Much work in animal welfare focuses on bolstering support for shelters. While shelters are a keystone in a community’s animal resource structure, in many cities—especially large urban areas—many pet owners live outside shelter service areas, or otherwise do not access shelters. Some live in service deserts with few to no animal care resources. Enter Pets for the Life—a program of The HSUS designed to boost access to affordable pet care in underserved communities. PFL has boots on the ground in four cities—Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Through its mentorship program, which now includes more than 20 cities, PFL provides guidance to shelters and other groups that want to implement PFL programs in their communities.

PFL director Amanda Arrington says that in most of the neighborhoods where the program operates, there are no veterinary offices. “Just having that center there for people to be able to go ask questions about their dogs and cats, to sign them up for spay/neuter, is important.” Arrington adds that beyond the immediate services they provide, the centers also demonstrate the program’s investment in the community.

Riding in (Horseless) Style

Legendary rock star Chrissie Hynde is lending her star status to thwart another icon—the horse-drawn carriage.

On Nov. 5, Hynde played a concert in New York City after arriving at the Beacon Theatre in an eCarriage—an electric vehicle that advocates hope will take the place of the horse-drawn models. In a statement issued by NYCLASS, an organization working to ban the horse-drawn carriages, Hynde notes, “The eCarriage will mean New Yorkers will no longer have to step in manure or worry about a spooked horse smashing into a cab.”

Citing animal welfare concerns, New York mayor Bill de Blasio introduced legislation in December that would eliminate horse-drawn carriages by mid-2016. Efforts to ban the carriages have faced stiff opposition from unions, who claim the move would eliminate jobs. De Blasio has said that horse-drawn carriage drivers will be offered training classes and a waiver of most licensing fees to operate eco-friendly taxicabs.

Designed and built by Jason Wenig of the Creative Workshop, the eCarriage was commissioned by NYCLASS and first unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in April 2014. The car, which seats eight, marries old-world styling with contemporary technology. And, as Hynde succinctly exclaimed to the crowd outside the theater, “No emissions, no poop!”

Doggie Paddles His Way Onto Team

It’s rare for a team to finish a race with extra teammates, but such was the case for Team Peak Performance last fall. The group started the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador with four members, but crossed the finish line with five, and a tail.

In the middle of the 430-mile endurance race through the Amazonian rain forest, the team came across a stray dog, who followed them along the next stage of the competition. To the team’s amazement, the dog—who they started calling Arthur—jogged, climbed and scrambled over rough terrain alongside them.

When it came to the last leg, which required them to take kayaks, they figured it was the end of the road for Arthur. The tenacious pup had other plans, though, leaping into the water and swimming after them. “This was too heartbreaking for the team,” the team’s Facebook page announced, so team member Mikael Lindnord paddled alongside Arthur and scooped him into his kayak, prompting raucous cheers from spectators.

After all five of them finished together, Lindnord decided to make Arthur a permanent teammate. Through a social media campaign, the group raised enough money to transport Arthur to Sweden, where three of the team members live. The team has since established the Arthur Foundation to support stray dogs.

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.