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Mutterings

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

From Animal Sheltering magazine July/August 2014

Safe Haven for People and Pets

In many domestic violence cases, where there is human abuse, there is animal abuse. Sadly, many shelters that offer safety to humans do not accommodate pets, and victims in such cases are often reluctant to flee violent situations because they don’t want to leave pets in a place where they may be abused. But options have been expanding, and not a minute too soon for some New York City residents and their furry companions.

In February, the city shelter operated by the Urban Resource Institute (URI) opened its doors to canine companions as part of an expansion of its People and Animals Living Safely (URIPALS) program. In June of 2012, the shelter had begun permitting cats and small critters, such as gerbils and hamsters. Thanks to funding from the ASPCA and Purina PetCare Co. and a modern, functional design from Gerard P. Paul (principal at Geppaul Architects), the facility now includes the Purina Play Haven and Dog Park—an area where the new canine residents can enjoy the great outdoors.

The dog park, discreetly concealed in an alleyway behind the shelter, features a ramp, tunnel, bridge and platform where pups can exercise and take care of business. The space is an essential component of keeping residents—who might otherwise run the risk of being spotted on the street by an abuser while dog-walking—safe.

The shelter is the only one of the city’s 50 such facilities that welcome pets. Last fall, Purina donated welcome kits for cats to the shelter, which included food, toys, crates and other pet supplies.

Stray Dog Hits Home Run

No one knows where Hank came from, but he’s not going anywhere. The Milwaukee Brewers were at their Phoenix, Ariz., spring training camp when the tiny pooch, disheveled and disoriented, wandered into the sports complex. Team staff wasted no time taking him to a veterinarian to get checked out and cleaned up.

Based on a tail injury and some markings around one of his legs, the vet surmised that Hank, as the team started calling him (after one-time Brewer Hank Aaron), might have been hit by a car. His age was estimated to be around 2. The team posted signs locally and used social media to search for his owner. In the process, the pup became a minor celebrity at the camp, even getting his own team jersey emblazoned with the number 1.

After no owner turned up, it was decided—Hank would become a Brewer. The loveable mutt was flown in to the Milwaukee airport on March 16 to a hero’s welcome as hundreds—including the mayor—turned out to greet him. He’s taken the city by storm as all across Milwaukee, fans are sporting Hank jerseys and T-shirts emblazoned with his likeness. He’s also helping his four-legged friends: A portion of the proceeds from official Hank-centric merchandise is being donated to the Wisconsin Humane Society.

After taking turns staying with staff members during spring training, Hank has found a permanent home with Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the team, and her family, which includes three sons ages 5 to 10. Even the grumpiest umpires declare Hank is safe in Milwaukee, after having managed to steal both hearts and home.

Who Rescued Whom?

When the McLarty family of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., adopted Hunter, they had no idea he’d save them right back. The family adopted the 3-month-old husky mix—their first shelter pup—in late February from a Michigan Humane Society (MHS) adoption center at a local Petco. Though they’d initially had an eye on his brother, that adoption was already pending, so they chose Hunter.

According to CBS Detroit, two weeks later, mom Jill McLarty woke up around midnight to an agitated Hunter whining at her. Even though it wasn’t his normal way of waking them (a paw on the face), she figured he just wanted out. Instead of going into the yard, though, he stayed by the door and whined. Confused, she took him back to bed.

In another uncharacteristic move, Hunter jumped off the bed and started turning excitedly in circles. McLarty knew something must be up and got back out of bed. Hunter ran to the kitchen and sat down next to their gas stove. When she looked at the stove, McLarty saw that one of the burners was on low—it had been on since they cooked dinner, six hours before.

Who knows what would have happened if the persistent pet hadn’t alerted them, but according to Nancy Gunnigle, communications manager for MHS, the McLartys are glad they didn’t have to find out. Though not happy about the harrowing circumstances, MHS is pleased to see a shelter pet get so much attention. “He’s quite the little rock star,” says Gunnigle. As for Hunter, he doesn’t seem to be letting his newfound hero status go to his sweet little head.

Preventing Overpopulation

Found Animals Foundation and PetSmart Charities are teaming up to offer information and training to veterinarians on the latest spay/neuter trends and techniques. The North American Spay/Neuter Conference will take place Aug. 14-17 in Austin, Texas. Attendees can choose between full tracks for both operations and veterinary staff.

Topics for operations staff include large-scale spay/neuter program planning, fundraising and transportation. Additionally, HSUS staff from the Pets for Life program will be on hand to provide instruction on how to build more humane communities.

Veterinarians will be able to attend hands-on trainings for both cats and dogs at Emancipet—a high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Veterinarian Mark Thompson, who serves as Found Animals’ director of strategic programs and pet identification, says the labs will provide an opportunity for licensed veterinarians to advance their pediatric spay/neuter skills by performing real-time surgery on shelter pets under the supervision of board-certified instructors. The lab will focus on high-volume techniques used on pediatric patients.

The training sessions will require at least a temporary Texas veterinary license, so contact organizers if you need help obtaining one.


Oh, Canada

Our neighbors to the north have given a big thumbs-up to the uniform standards of care released in 2010 by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV). The Canadian Advisory Council on National Shelter Standards recently issued a document affirming the appropriateness of the ASV’s Guidelines of Standards of Care in Animal Sheltering for Canadian shelters and urging their adoption nationally.

Experts in population management developed the original ASV guidelines as a means of setting basic expectations for shelters’ standards of animal care. The goal was to create uniform recommendations that would provide the highest level of care to each individual animal while taking into account the needs of the population as a whole. The document addresses physical, mental and behavioral needs.

The Canadian group issued a companion document—Canadian Standards of Care in Animal Shelters: Supporting ASV Guidelines—that includes a reference guide for Canadian shelters and urges shelters to put an end to practices deemed “unacceptable.”

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.