Pet foster homes are growing in popularity, both with fosters and also with animal shelters to help expand their capacity to care for the community's homeless pets. But with that popularity come challenges in providing preventive care and veterinary treatment to those pets.
In a recent Maddie's InsituteSM webcast, Elizabeth Berliner, DVM, MA, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice), Director of Maddie's® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, took attendees through medical protocols for foster program pets. Now, that webcast is available on-demand, with an accompanying transcript.
View the on-demand webcast, read the accompanying materials, and get information on CE credit and a certificate of attendance, here.
Can busy municipal animal control agencies dramatically reduce the number of cats entering their shelters as well as euthanasia rates? A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ suggests they can.
In 2009, the municipal animal shelter in San Jose, CA, was seeing the number of cats coming into the facility increasing even though they had a longstanding low cost spay/neuter program. Despite attempts to ensure live outcomes for these cats, the numbers weren't good.
That's when they began sterilizing healthy feral cats who came into their shelter, and returning them to the locations where they'd been thriving. That added up to 10,080 cats out of the 11,423 they impounded.
What happened? Study authors Karen L. Johnson and Jon Cicirelli reported:
Four years into the program, researchers observed cat and kitten impounds decreased 29.1%; euthanasia decreased from over 70% of intakes in 2009, to 23% in 2014. Euthanasia in the shelter for Upper Respiratory Disease decreased 99%; dead cat pick up off the streets declined 20%. Dog impounds did not similarly decline over the four years. No other laws or program changes were implemented since the beginning of the program.
The complete article can be read, free, at the link below.
Johnson KL, Cicirelli J. (2014) Study of the effect on shelter cat intakes and euthanasia from a shelter neuter return project of 10,080 cats from March 2010 to June 2014. PeerJ 2:e646 http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.646
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It's crucial to do a good job of being interesting, and presenting your story in a professional way that conveys to the reporter your organization is worth covering. Here are a few tips on how to accomplish that:
1. Choose your outlet and reporter. If you aren't sure to whom you should send your releases, go to news.google.com and search using the name of your community and keywords related to your organization or pet adoption. Contact those reporters, using the information on the outlet's website. If his or her email address isn't there, call and ask for it. Reporters and editors want stories!
2. Don't give up.Too many groups send out one release and then, when the reporter doesn't write about their story, they figure it was all a waste. If you've chosen the right media outlet and reporter for your pitch, just keep sending them good releases. It can often take 10 or more before a reporter calls, but if you stop, they never will.
3. Tell a story. Open your release with a paragraph sharing the story of a specific pet who your organization has helped, or is currently in need of help. This personalizes your work and hooks both the reporter and his or her readers.
4. Think multimedia. Don't just send a press release -- include a link to assets like photos and video. Doing so will up the chances you'll get coverage, especially on the web and from bloggers and social media.
5. Don't send attachments. Paste your press release right into the email, and include a link to more information on your website.
6. Check your email and voice messages. One huge mistake is sending out a press release and not including contact information, or not having someone available as soon as the release hits a reporter's inbox.
7. Tweet Tweet! Reporters often respond really well to being contacted on Twitter. If you're not sure what their Twitter handles are, check the media outlet website, or search for their names on Twitter.
Also of interest:
A joint campaign of the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program and the Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, with funding by Maddie's Fund®, the Challenge is led by Drs. Kate Hurley and Julie Levy. It seeks to partner with animal shelters to implement initiatives designed to increase the number of cats who leave shelters alive.
These programs will reduce intake, improve the conditions cats experience in shelters, remove barriers to adoption and revolutionize the way community and feral cats are handled.
Join us on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 9:00 PM Eastern, for a free webcast, The Million Cat Challenge.
The presenters will give an overview of the Challenge, as well as:
This will be a 90 minute webcast including an opportunity for audience Q&A at the conclusion.
Join us for the live webcast and you will receive a Certificate of Attendance - with no quiz required! The on-demand version, available about one week later, will require a passing grade on the quiz for the certificate!
Register here to attend live, as well as to get a link to the on-demand version when it's available!
Nothing is more heartbreaking than hearing from a devoted pet owner whose pet needs veterinary care they can't afford. While credit programs and pet insurance can help some owners, for others, only charitable funds can fill the void.
While no program can help all pets at all times and in any amount, there are national, local and breed-specific resources available to help with veterinary bills in times of need. Here are a few from VeterinaryPartner.com:
Big Hearts Fund, for heart disease.
Canine Cancer Awareness, cancer treatment for dogs.
Cats in Crisis, for cats with kidney, thyroid, neurological or cardiac disease.
Diabetic Cats in Need, for shelters, rescues, low-income owners.
Dog and Cat Cancer Fund, cancer treatment.
FETCH a Cure, for pets with cancer.
Joshua Lewis Cancer Foundation, pets with cancer.
Magic Bullet Fund, dogs with cancer.
PieFund, focuses on cancer.
Riedel Cody Fund, cancer treatment.
Stymie Canine Cancer Foundation, dogs with cancer.
American Humane Association's Second Chance Fund, for nonprofits helping homeless victims of abuse or neglect (numerous species).
Brown Dog Foundation, for sick pets that would likely respond to treatment.
Buddy Care Foundation, for critical medical care.
Cody's Club, [not a 501(c)(3)] radiation treatment at nonprofits.
Feline Veterinary Emergency Assistance, for cats with life-threatening illness or injury.
Frankie's Friends, for emergency and specialty care.
Handicapped Pets Foundation, provides equipment.
IMOM (In Memory of Magic), non-routine care for companion animals.
International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, for assistance dogs.
Mosby Foundation, critically sick, injured, abused and neglected dogs.
National Equine Resource Network, life-saving surgeries or treatments.
Onyx and Breezy Foundation, medical treatment for hardship.
Paws 4 a Cure, illnesses and injuries.
Pet Fund, medical costs beyond normal expenses.
RedRover/United Animal Nations, grants between $100 and $200 to fill small funding gaps.
Shakespeare Animal Fund, for those meeting federal poverty guidelines.
To read the complete list, click here.
Why does it matter? From a recent white paper published by Donor Drive:
Read the complete paper here.
The Million Cat Challenge is coming to your town!
A joint project of Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida and the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, with significant funding from Maddie's Fund®, the Challenge is bringing together animal shelters across North America to save the lives of one million more cats in the next five years.
From the launch release:
Participating animal shelters include municipal animal control facilities and private organizations of all sizes, and all will benefit from the experiences of their peers at other organizations as well as from the shelter medicine programs behind the campaign.
The core strategy of the campaign is comprised of five key initiatives that offer every shelter, in every community, practical choices to reduce euthanasia and increase live outcomes for shelter cats.
"Participating shelters can focus on one, some, or all of the initiatives, depending on what's right for their organization and community," said Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the UC Davis program. "We welcome everyone who wants to find new approaches to saving cats' lives."
Resources available to Challenge participants include a private online forum where they can get support from their peers as well as from shelter veterinarians and a website with articles, forms, case studies, webinars and more.
"We expect some of the most valuable information each shelter will get will come from the other participating shelters," said Dr. Julie Levy, Director of the University of Florida program. "This effort is based on collaboration and the sharing of resources."
Veterinary medicine has come a long way since the days when "animals don't feel pain" was a common belief. Even when pain was acknowledged in mammals, it was often seen as a form of restraint, as in, "A little pain will keep the pet quiet."
Today, we know that the sensation of pain itself inhibits healing and raises stress levels in animals, and that by preventing and treating pain aggressively, we promote faster recoveries and avoid many post-operative complications.
Recently, the Winn Feline Health Foundation published an overview of research and data on the pain medication buprenorphine, an opioid widely used in cats.
First, the good news: Yes, it works.
The bad news is that it doesn't work in the way, or as well as is generally believed.
1. How the drug is given matters. The gold standard of administering buprenorphine is the intravenous (IV) method. However, this requires IV access, which is not always available in a shelter setting, in a foster home or in emergency situations.
The next best method of administration is by intra-muscular (IM) injection.
Giving buprenorphine by subcutaneous (sub-Q) injection does not give reliable pain control.
Buprenorphine is often given by letting it be absorbed from under the tongue, known as oral-transmucosal administration (OTM). This has the advantage of being painless and relatively non-stressful to cats. Unfortunately, the literature review did not reveal good data supporting the pain-relieving effect of this method of administration, and it is not recommended to use this as the sole form of analgesia.
The authors suggest, "Cats who are going to receive OTM buprenorphine should be given a dose of a full agonist opioid or even injectable buprenorphine beforehand as premedication."
2. Buprenorphine takes longer to take effect, and lasts less time, than veterinary textbooks indicate. Time to pain relief with the most effective route, via IV, takes around 30-45 minutes, and while the drug is frequently given only once, that's just not enough.
For example, the article authors reported, "(C)ats undergoing ovariohysterectomy may require a second dose of buprenorphine 4 hours after surgery, especially if an NSAID had not also been given."
For that reason, they said, "cats receiving buprenorphine should be routinely reassessed for rescue analgesia needs after buprenorphine administration."
3. Giving buprenorphine with other drugs works best. As has been found in many studies of pain in humans and other animals, an approach known as "multi-modal" works best. This means giving two or more drugs, with different methods of action, to get better pain control.
In the case of buprenorphine, the authors conclude, "Optimal pain relief usually is obtained when buprenorphine is combined with an NSAID, loco-regional anesthesia, or both."
To read the complete article and view its citations, visit the Winn Feline Health Foundation blog.
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