Posts tagged with "ASPCA"

Is animal hoarding a distinct mental disorder?

July 25, 2022

For better or worse, hoarding has gotten a lot of attention in recent years,  due to the popularity of several TV shows—among them, Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive. People suffering from the disorder cannot discard things, stuffing every available inch of their homes and cars with anything from clothes to old newspapers, to food containers, to bags of trash.  The disorder can be serious, leading to unsafe living arrangements and social isolation, reports Smithsonian Magazine.

But the results are even more problematic for people who collect animals. A new study—conducted at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and published in the journal, Psychiatry Researchexamines the motivations behind so-called animal hoarding, suggesting that the disorder is not actually as closely related to object hoarding as once thought, reports Michael Price at Science.

Unlike previous approaches to the disorder, the latest study suggests that animal hoarding should be classified as an independent disorder with the hope of developing specialized treatments to help these people cope with the compulsion to collect critters.

Animal hoarders acquire and live with dozens or even hundreds of creatures in their homes, causing suffering for both the hoarder and animals. The people and their creatures often live in poor conditions; the animals often lack adequate food and medical treatment. And although this seems similar to object hoarding, the latest study addresses several differences that may influence treatments.

The study came from the work of Doctoral student Elisa Arrienti Ferreira at the university, who was studying animal hoarding for her master’s degree. At the time, it struck her how different object and animal hoarding seemed to be and she began to dig into the topic.

Ferreira and her colleagues visited the homes of 33 animal hoarders, assessing their living situation and interviewing them about their disorder. Of this lot, the average hoarder had 41 animals. In total, the 33 hoarders had acquired 915 dogs, 382 cats and 50 ducks—one house alone contained roughly 170 dogs and some 20 to 30 cats, reports Charles Choi at Discover Magazine.

As Price reports, the demographics of the animal hoarders were consistent with what researchers know about object hoarders. About 75% were low income, 88% were not married, and 66% were elderly. But there were differences. Object hoarders are pretty much evenly split between men and women, meanwhile roughly 73% of animal hoarders are women.

Their motivations also differ. “When you talk with object hoarders, they talk about hoarding objects because they might need them some day—say, they might read those magazines,” Ferreira tells Choi. “But with animal hoarders, you hear, ‘They need me, and I need them. They are important to me; I can’t imagine how my life would be if they didn’t exist. I am on a mission; I was born to do this.’” Many of the animal hoarders began collecting stray animals after a trauma, like the death of a loved one, Ferreira adds.

And while object hoarders are often conscious of their condition and want to help to change their lives, animal hoarders seem to think there’s not a problem, even if many of the animals in their care are suffering. Many of them shun attempts to help.  “They are really suspicious—they keep thinking you are there to steal the animals,” Ferreira says. “So it’s really complicated to approach them—you have to establish trust with them, and that takes time, and I think it will be very difficult.”

The consequences are also harder to deal with than object hoarding, notes Price. Unlike object hoarders, whose homes can be cleared out by a junk removal service, an animal hoarder may need to have pets euthanized, put under veterinary care, or adopted. Then there’s the remediation required to clean a home covered in animal urine and feces.

Ferreira and her team are not the first to suggest animal hoarding is its own unique disorder, but the latest work is changing how researchers think about the issue. “It does not appear to be a single, simple disorder,” Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty projects for the ASPCA tells Tait. “In the past it has been seen as an addictive behavior, and as a manifestation of OCD. We’re also now seeing it as an attachment disorder where people have an impaired ability to form relationships with other people and animals fill that void.”

Graham Thew, who studies hoarding at Oxford, tells Price that the new research is a good start, but there’s not enough to classify animal hoarding as its own disorder yet. “This paper makes some interesting behavioral observations, but I think we’d need more evidence of a distinct underlying psychological difficulty before we start to think about animal hoarding as a distinct difficulty.”

Research contact: @SmithsonianMag

Therapy dog Annie Rose hops into new role as the next Cadbury Bunny for 2022

March 30, 2022

Drumroll please … The votes are in, and America has chosen Annie Rose from Ohio as the winner of the fourth-annual Cadbury Bunny Tryouts!

 In addition to starring in the 2022 Cadbury Clucking Bunny commercial, which you can get a sneak preview of here, Annie Rose will take home a $5,000 cash prize and plenty of bragging rights, announces The Hershey Company, parent of the London-based confectionary firm.

 As a therapy dog who visits local nursing homes in her home state of Ohio, Annie Rose, an English Doodle breed,  is used to being in the spotlight.

 And she loves bringing smiles to the faces of the residents of the communities she serves—so much so that not even a global pandemic can stop her. When COVID-19 restrictions meant no visitors at nursing homes, Annie Rose didn’t give up, she worked even harder, dressing up and strutting her stuff outside the nursing home windows instead.  

 “We can’t thank everyone enough for voting for our very own Annie Rose and making her the next Cadbury Bunny, especially her doodle families and friends who went over and beyond,” said Lori R., Annie Rose’s owner. “Our community rallied behind and supported her just as she has for them for years as a therapy dog. All of us are still shocked by the news but can’t wait to get Annie Rose those iconic Cadbury Bunny ears.”

 Together, the Cadbury brand team and this year’s Judges Panel—made up of all three previous winners—Henri the English Bulldog (2019), Lieutenant Dan (2020), and Betty the Frog (2021)—narrowed down the top ten finalists before turning it over to America to ultimately decide the winner. After receiving thousands of votes from fans across the country, Annie Rose is putting her bunny ears back on and joining the Cadbury Hall of Fame.

 “A huge thanks goes out to all of the amazing contestants that made selecting this year’s top ten so difficult and a big congratulations to our newest Cadbury Bunny, Annie Rose,” said Teal Liu, Cadbury Brand Manager, adding, “From cats and dogs to sugar gliders and hedgehogs, cuteness and creativity was not in short supply when it came to this year’s finalists.”

 To further support the nation’s leading animal welfare organization, the Cadbury brand achieved its goal of donating $20,000 to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). This year, the brand put out a call to action for votes, promising to donate $5,000 to the ASPCA; plus an additional $5,000 for every incremental 5,000 votes received, up to a total donation of $20,000—and America responded, helping the brand reach its goal.

 Research contact: Hershey

Under AB485, California pet stores are constrained to selling rescue animals

January 3, 2019

Retail pet stores in the Golden State no longer are selling pedigreed poodles or Persian cats on their premises. Under a law effective January 1, known as AB 485, they have been constrained to marketing only dogs, cats, and rabbits obtained from animals shelters or rescue organizations—making California the first state in the union to ban the sale of animals raised in so-called “puppy mills” and other “high-volume” animal breeding facilities.

According to a report by The Cut, the new legislation does not affect sales from private breeders—or from person to person.

Specifically, retail pet stores must stock their dogs, cats, and rabbits from a “public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter,” or a rescue group that is “in a cooperative agreement with at least one private or public shelter.” Any store found to be in violation of the law will be fined $500.

“It takes the emphasis off the profit of animals and puts the emphasis back on caring for and getting these cats and dogs a good home,” Californian Mitch Kentdotson told NBC4 Los Angeles when he and his wife visited the San Diego Humane Society to adopt a kitten last week.

The bill is meant to address the crowded inhumane, unhealthy conditions under which pedigreed animals often have been raised.

So who could object? The new law has its critics, including the American Kennel Club which recently released a statement noting that, “anti-breeder animal rights extremists continuously advocate for incremental breeding and sales restrictions that they hope will eventually lead to outright bans on all animal breeding and ownership.”

The club further noted, “In essence, retail pet store bans … remove available consumer protections for new pet owners, limit the ability of pet owners to obtain the appropriate pet for their lifestyle, and potentially increase public health risks (which are not limited to geopolitical state boundaries).”

Patrick O’Donnell (D-70th District), the California Assembly member who introduced the bill, called its passage a “big win” for “four-legged friends,” and noted that it would save California taxpayers millions of dollars on sheltering animals.

As the BBC notes, the ASPCA estimated that 6.5 million pets enter shelters every year, 1.5 million of which are put down.

While the Humane Society has not yet been contacted by any stores wishing to obtain pets, a spokesperson told The Cut that the organization isn’t yet sure if it would partner with pet stores, saying, “We’re not prepared to do that ourselves, because we have a fairly robust adoption program.”

Research contact: @mmaggeler

A new leash on life: Senior dogs enjoy loving care at Vintage Pet Rescue

December 18, 2 018

High on the list of things that “shouldn’t happen to a dog” is being abandoned in old age, or being given up when an elderly owner is too infirm to continue providing a much-loved pet with the care it deserves.

Now Kristen and Marc Peralta, a couple who live in Rhode Island, are welcoming dogs in their golden age to live at Vintage Pet Rescue—a nonprofit that takes in elderly pooches from local shelters when they are unlikely to find a new home.

Indeed, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals senior dogs in shelters have an adoption rate of just 25%, while younger dogs have a 60% rate.

“We are committed to rescuing vintage [senior] pets from shelters and assisting owners who can no longer care for [them]. We give these animals love, attention, and medical care for the last months or years of their lives,” the Peraltas say on their website.

The two activists met at an animal shelter in Los Angeles in 2013, and discovered their shared love for senior dogs. After they got married and moved to the East Coast, they began rescuing dogs over the age of eight and bringing them to their spacious home, an old church in Foster, Rhode Island.

In 2017, Kristen turned the labor of love into a full-time gig, according to a December 17 report by the Huffington Post—and today, she oversees the care of 27 mostly senior dogs.

 “It breaks our heart to see senior dogs in shelters,” she told the online news outlet. “They’re just frail; they’re probably scared; [and] a lot of them have vision or hearing issues. Just seeing them, you just want to help.”

This was the heartbreaking scenario for four older Chihuahuas who lived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a woman named Linda, until her Stage 4 lung cancer, prevented her from keeping them, People first reported. Linda needed to move into her sister’s home in Rhode Island to receive care, as well as chemotherapy treatment, but the dogs couldn’t come.

Linda and her sister searched for a rescue that wouldn’t euthanize or separate the four pups, and they came across Vintage Pet Rescue. The Peraltas welcomed the chihuahua pack, and Linda is able to visit them often, as her sister lives just a few miles away.l

“I started out visiting the dogs every other day which was wonderful,” Linda told People. “[Kristin] accommodated me with my schedule and the dogs there are all happy, loved, and taken care of better than I can do myself.”

When she first started Vintage Pet Rescue, Peralta didn’t anticipate caring for animals whose owners needed care themselves, but she said she receives many requests for situations like this.

“We really wanted to be able to provide the dogs with an environment where they’ll be comfortable, living in a home cage-free,” she told the Huffington Post. “It then kind of expanded into helping people who could no longer care for their senior dogs—whether they were going into a retirement home or someone’s relative passed away. It’s not what we set out to do but it’s really nice. The owners can still be a part of their dogs’ lives.”

A life spent waiting on two dozen older dogs can be hectic, she told the news outlet. Peralta schedules vet appointments at least once a week, doles out individual medications and does a lot of bathing and petting. “Throw some social media and fundraising in there, and it’s busy,” Peralta said.

But the work is rewarding, and she thinks it’s helping to show more and more people just how special senior dogs are. “They all have such distinct personalities — every one of them is such a character,” she told HuffPost.

“You can just tell how much they appreciate you,” Peralta commented. “They’re thankful that they’re with you and you love them. It’s so special to know that you saved a dog’s life and that it’s going to have a happy rest of life because of you.”

Research contact@Kbratskeir

Good grief: Helping your pet through the loss of a friend

July 25, 2018

When we adopt animals, they quickly become members of the family—forging special bonds with their human and fellow pet companions. Most days, this brings happiness to all involved. However, when there is a death in the household, dogs and cats (and rabbits, horses, and birds) are not only sensitive to the grief of those left behind; their own sorrow often is palpable.

“Pets can grieve to varying degrees when they lose a human or animal companion,” Kate Mornement, an Australian animal behaviorist and consultant, told The Huffington Post this month. “Our understanding of this used to be anecdotal, but now we have scientific evidence of grief in both cats and dogs.”

Of course, as the HuffPost reported on July 20, not all pets grieve—and the ways in which they mourn vary from individual to individual. Still, there are some common signs of grief. In many cases, they behave the way grieving humans do, according to Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the author of the book, Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do (University of Chicago Press).

“In general, an individual might stop eating or eat less, stop playing, mope around looking for their friend ― walking slowly, head low, tail down, for example ― and simply seem distracted and not interested in doing much,” Bekoff says. “One of the dogs with whom I shared my home went from being a hyper-playful social butterfly and nonstop eater to a laid back and lethargic dog who stopped eating for two days after his dog friend died.”

Much the same is true for cats. A survey fielded in 1996 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)—called the Companion Animal Mourning Project—established that:

  • 46% of cats experienced decreased appetite following the loss of a feline companion;
  • Many cats slept more than usual, while some suffered from insomnia;
  • Some cats changed the area of the house where they slept;
  • About 70% of cats exhibited changes vocal patterns (some meowed more, while others were quieter);
  • Surviving cats often were more affectionate with their owners and became clingy.

The study, which assessed many different behavior patterns, concluded that 65% of cats experienced four or more behavioral changes after the loss of a family pet which indicated grief.

 “They can also get ill,” Mornement warned.”Maybe all the tension will well up in their bladder, and they’ll start not using the litter box,” she added. “A lot of separation anxiety can really build up so that a behavioral or emotional issue can trigger a medical problem. Or if they already had an existing condition, that could intensify.”

Cat therapist Carole Wilbourn told HuffPost of grieving felines, “They can withdraw, they can take it out on a companion cat, or they can be aggressive with their caregiver.”

Wilbourn said she tells cat owners to focus on nurturing themselves through the loss and work to create a healing and happy atmosphere for their pets. “Frequently, a cat will mirror their person’s feelings and actions. You don’t have to necessarily pretend you aren’t feeling sad, but also do things to make yourself feel better, like play music, take a bubble bath, do yoga or meditate,” she suggested.

Wilbourn also recommended telling the cat that everything is going to be OK. “I’m not saying the cat understands words, but they pick up the body language and tone of voice,” she said.

Much of pet grief may be connected to a loss of routine rather than particularly deep-seated emotions. Wilbourn recommends taking a dog on a completely different route from the path it’s used to, and bringing it back to breakfast in a different part of the house.

“That way, the routine is different,” she said. “The space the other animal or person holds in the dog’s heart is oriented around a routine. So when you change the routine, they’re going to feel the absence of that dog or that person less. It’s not going to erase it, but they’re going to feel it less.”

If your dog lost a fellow dog companion, she also recommended getting a new dog bed so that the smells aren’t there as a reminder. Another important thing is to let your pet be with the dead animal, if possible.

“People can help their pets through the grieving process by being there for them and spending time with them,” said Mornement. “The passage of time will help to ease grief. However, engaging in activities your pet enjoys, such as walking or playing can also help. Losing a much-loved companion can be a big adjustment, and showing some extra care and compassion towards a grieving pet will help pets transition to life without their companion.”

Bekoff said, “Love them, comfort them, calm them down, make them feel safe and secure and let them know you care for them and love them and are there to support them.”

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How to keep your dog ‘chill’ in hot weather

June 19, 2018

Did you know that dogs are much more susceptible to heat stroke than we are?  One reason is all that fur. Another: While dogs do have sweat glands on their feet, they do not have them on the rest of their body. They rely on panting, which is not as effective as sweating.

So, don’t let your pet be a “hot dog.” According to Wikihow’s experts, there are several things we can do to ensure that Fido stays “chill,” even in the steamiest weather:

  1. Keep a filled water bowl easily available to your dog at all times. If your dog finishes the bowl quickly, get a bigger bowl or get a few bowls. If you live with others, set up a schedule to ensure that someone is remembering to check and refill the bowl throughout the day. If you do not, be sure to leave an adequate supply when you leave the house and refill the bowls with cold water when you return.
  2. The wetter, the better. Give your dog somewhere to get wet. Set up a small wading pool or similar container of water for your dog to jump into and keep his cool in the yard. The dog also might also like to run under the sprinkler or a light hose. Be certain that any pool you provide is not so deep that your dog could drown. The dog should be able to stand on the bottom of the pool with its head above the water.
  3. Bring water along on walks or short trips. When you take your dog out on a hot day, bring water for both of you. If your pet is panting or seems sluggish, stop in a shady area to offer your dog water. If the dog won’t drink, you can pour the water over its body.
  4. Keep your dog indoors. Let your dog spend the hottest part of the day in the coolest part of the house. If you have air conditioning in your house, leave it on during the day while your dog is alone. There is no ideal temperature that applies for all dogs, but most begin to show signs of overheating between 81 and 85 degrees. If temperatures are likely to rise into this range, keep the AC on for your dog when you leave home. Set it between 78 and 80 degrees. This is especially important when the weather is humid. The moisture in the air makes it harder for dogs to cool themselves by panting. If your basement is cool and comfortable, having your dog spend time down there also is a good idea.
  5. Provide plenty of shade. Provide a cool kennel or covered porch space for outdoor dogs to rest in. If your dog will be outside during the day, you can buy a sunshade, or you can make a canopy with a thin blanket.
  6. Buy your pet a cooling pad. There are many different pad you can buy that are designed to keep dogs cool. Most of them are filled with a gel that draws the heat out of your dog’s body. An alternative is to lay a damp towel on the kitchen floor. If your dog will lie down on the towel, it will feel refreshed.
  7. Avoid midday walks. Take your dog for its walk early in the morning and at night when the air is cooler. If it is especially hot and/or humid, it may be better to skip the walk entirely.
  8. Choose shady, cool places to go for walks. You will both benefit from a cooler walking area. The presence of sea or river breezes can make an area a good choice for walking, if you live near such a place. Manage your dog’s activity by putting it on a leash. This can help you prevent your dog from over-exerting itself in the heat.
  9. During any activity outside, avoid letting your pet’s paws touch hot pavement. It can burn your dog’s paws. Let your pooch roam on grass if it’s possible, and keep exposure to pavements at a minimum. To test whether the pavement is safe for your dog to walk on, lay the flat of your palm on the ground. If it burns, keep your dog off the pavement or put a pair of booties on its paws. If you cannot hold your hand on the pavement for at least 15 seconds, do not take your dog out for that walk until the sidewalk has cooled.
  10. Go to the groomer:  This is especially important for dogs with thick, long coats. Be aware, though, that sometimes the fur will take a long time to grow back after it has been clipped.Take care that your groomer does not shave the dog completely. Leaving skin exposed can increase the chances of sunburn.
  11. Don’t leave you pet in a parked car. Heat levels inside a car can rise very quickly and can kill your dog. You could also get in trouble with animal welfare and the police. Be sure to leave windows open for your dog while traveling in the car, and always bring some water with you.
  12. Use your car’s air conditioner to keep the temperature of the moving car under 75 degrees. If your car does not have air conditioning, leave your dog at home when it is extremely hot outside.
  13. Offer cold treats. Give the dog some cold treats, a few at a time. Too many at once (like immersing in the dog ice water) could cause your dog to go into shock. You can freeze low-sodium beef or chicken broth or other tasty liquids in an ice-cube tray to make a frozen treat your dog will enjoy. On hot days, your dog may be happy just to receive an ordinary ice cube as well. Do not force water or ice down your dog’s throat. This might cause water to get into the lungs, causing more complications like pneumonia or death. Just wet the dog down with cool water, if it will not drink.
  14. Place wet towels against the pads of your dog’s feet. You also can ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel. Place them against your dog’s skin, inside the front and hind legs and along the neck. These are the areas where there major blood vessels are located. Cooling the blood as it passes under the ice packs will help cool the interior of the dog.

Finally, call the vet or the ASPCA if you notice warning signs. Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, a bright red or enlarged tongue, sluggish behavior, or being slow to respond. And remember that certain breeds are especially susceptible, including those with double coats, and those with flatter faces (such as bulldogs, pugs, and boxers, which have small airways, have a harder time blowing out hot air). If you have any questions about your pet’s safety in the heat, contact the SPCA at 1-888-666-2279 , or at the email address below.

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Pets need food stamps, too!

February 5, 2018

Each year, over 40 million limited-income Americans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help purchase food for themselves and their families. It is the most wide-reaching program in the domestic hunger safety net, helping to keep millions of families from starving. But what about their pets?

Now, a Mississippi man is petitioning the federal government to modify food stamp rules to make it easier for those with limited incomes to feed their dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, snakes, fish—or whatever type of animal is a member of the family.

According to a report in the Denver Post, Edward Johnston Jr. would rather give his dinner to his dog than watch the pooch go hungry. That is why the 59-year-old Mississippi resident is petitioning the Department of Agriculture to let him use food stamps on kibble and pet treats.

And he is not the only one: His food drive has attracted nearly 80,000 signatures on the popular petition site Care2, as well as a number of animal welfare organizations.

Indeed, the need is obvious, based on findings of the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, commissioned by the American Pet Products Association, an industry group: Fully 14% of all pet-owning households make less than $25,000 per year—which, for a family of four, is roughly the federal poverty limit.

Food for  each dog and cat averages $235 per year, according to the Pet Products Association. According to the Denver Post, when families don’t have enough money to buy pet food, they frequently do what Johnston does: Share the people food. But it’s not the same, and it can harm pets.

Not only that, but food costs can prompt families trying to get by on limited incomes to surrender or re-home a pet. In a 2015 study by the ASPCA, 30% of low-income people who relinquished their pets said they would have kept them if they had a free or low-cost pet food option.

The problems are real, but food-stamp experts say it’s doubtful that changing SNAP could be part of the solution. SNAP has explicitly excluded pet food since its earliest authorization in 1964.

In lieu of government action, nonprofit organizations such as the ASPCA and Rescue Bank, a national emergency pet-food distributor, say they have stepped up their own efforts. Food pantries also have gotten in on the action.

However, ultimately, advocates say, such organizations cannot provide for all the low-income people struggling to feed dogs and cats. Until they can, people like Johnston face difficult choices.

“Being poor is hard enough,” the Post said he wrote in his petition, “without being expected to give up your companion.”

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