Getting a jump start on kitten AND puppy season

Woo hoo! We were recently awarded more funding. In particular, a matching grant from Two Mauds, Inc. and the City of Norfolk takes us back to our early days of spay/neuter outreach. (It’s been nearly four years!)

For Norfolk only – Cats & Dogs: We received a grant donation of $5000 from the City of Norfolk, and Two Mauds, Inc. matched this amount. The funds will provide spay/neuter services for need-based Norfolk citizens. The intent of this grant opportunity is to “persuade local governments to pitch in on the effort to stem the tide of homeless animals.” Please use our online form to request assistance.

For the greater Hampton Roads region – Cats: Along with our ASPCA grant for “owned” cats, we have a grant from the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies to be used for TNR. Please use our online forms for requests: Community cats/TNR assistance or “owned” cats assistance.

Getting a jump start on kitten season

We’re excited to report that we’ve received more grant funding from The ASPCA! Funding will again be used for “owned” cats, with a goal of spaying/neutering eighty-five cats. Though we began and continue to work in Norfolk, we’ve been able to expand to the larger Hampton Roads area, and the current grant provides that larger coverage. The delayed Spring provides a great opportunity for a jump start on “kitten season.” Please don’t wait to spay/neuter.

Requests for assistance should be submitted online: http://artanimals.org/spayhr/spayhr-appointment-request

Congratulations to our Friends!

Norfolk Pet Pantry - located behind Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center

Norfolk Pet Pantry – located behind Norfolk Animal Care & Adoption Center

Congratulations to Friends of Norfolk Animal Care Center (NACC), who recently received a $5000 grant from the Banfield Charitable Trust for their Pet Pantry! The volunteers with Friends work hard to help residents keep and care for their pets, and we’ve been happy to collaborate with them for the years we’ve been doing the same. In 2014, they will contribute $500/month to our work.

The Banfield grant will allow Friends continue helping people; but, they need more food donations to the Pet Pantry. (Grant funding alone would only help until June.) If you spot a great deal on cat or dog food, grab an extra bag or two and drop them off at one of the many donation locations:

PETCOJanaf Shopping Center, 5900 East Virginia Beach Blvd, Norfolk

PETCO4540 Princess Anne Rd # 128, Virginia Beach

Muddy Paws – 3700 Hampton Blvd, Norfolk

Longs-Roullet Bookbinders – 2800 Monticello Avenue, Norfolk

Old Donation Episcopal Church4449 N. Witchduck Road, Virginia Beach

Dog & Cat Hospital –  238 W. 21st ST, Norfolk

5 Points Farmers Market –  26th & Church ST, Norfolk

Norfolk Pet Pantry – located behind the NACC shelter at 5585 Sabre Road, Norfolk

* Please note that NACC employees do not staff the Pet Pantry. Donations taken to the shelter should be placed in the Pet Pantry donation box just outside of the pantry shed behind the shelter.

Legislation to Support (Updated)

Please voice your support for animals with your Virginia General Assembly legislators. Thank them for their support, too. (Everyone likes to be thanked for good work!) To find out who your Delegate or Senator is, use the Who’s My Legislator? Service.*

SB228 – “Bailey’s Bill” – was passed in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee and a third reading in the full Senate. It is now headed to the House. SB228 will require those who sell companion animals to be accountable for veterinary costs. The bill also requires disclosure of breeder information. This component of the bill is particularly targeted at “pet stores” selling out of state “puppy mill” animals. Currently, these sellers do not disclose the breeder until the customer has paid. In the Committee hearing, the bill was described as pro pet and pro consumer. The only dissenting opinion came from the Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders. Please contact your Senators to thank them for their overwhelming support and your Delegates to urge them to support this bill, too.

Two bills in the House and Senate concern fox penning. SB42: Fox or coyote; penalty for any person to erect or maintain an enclosure for purpose of hunting, etc. is in the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, which includes Puckett (Chairman), Hanger, Watkins, Ruff, McEachin, Petersen, Stuart, Marsden, Stanley, Miller, Ebbin, Cosgrove, McDougle,Wexton, and Lewis. SB42 will be heard in committee Thursday, 2/6/14. If you can attend this event, please come! The Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee meets in Senate Room B half an hour after the full session has ended, so the exact Committee meeting time cannot be predicted. It’s recommended that you arrive by noon and plan to be finished by 3:00PM. Please ask your Senators, especially if they serve on this committee,  to support SB42.

HB1188: Animal fighting; money paid for admission to certain premises, etc. has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee: Criminal Law, which includes Bell (Chairman), Albo, Cline, Gilbert, Miller, Villanueva, Morris, Adams, Watts, Herring, and Mason.

HB972 includes animals in protective orders and has been assigned to the House Courts of Justice Sub-Committee: Criminal Law. This bill came out of the the Sub-Committee by a 5-4 vote: YEAS (5) — Bell, Robert B., Cline, Morris, Watts, Herring. NAYS (4) — Gilbert, Miller, Villanueva, Adams. Please thank those who voted for this bill. If your Delegate voted against it, please let him know you are disappointed. HB972 is now headed to the House Appropriations Committee, which includes Jones (Chairman), Ingram, Cox, Landes, O’Bannon, Lingamfelter, Poindexter, Massie, Scott, Peace, Greason, Knight, Anderson, Garrett, Stolle, Joannou, Brink, Howell, BaCote, Dance, Torian, and Hester.

SB622 would create a statewide spay/neuter fund. This bill is dead for the year. We encourage you to still support Senator Stanley’s efforts to help animals and hope this bill will come up again next year.

* We have local legislators on these sub- and committees. If you are in their districts, it is especially important that you let them know you are a constituent and you support animals.

Compassionate action

On Sunday, Virginian-Pilot Editorial page Editor, Donald Luzzatto, published Looking For a Way Out of the Ravine. In great detail, the Editor recalls the setting and effects of “the howls” his family heard. An explanation of what actually happened in “the ravine” is less clear and described as “best we could figure.” The next paragraphs draw on emotional appeals to argue that the cats for whom his family offered no help lived a life only slightly better than death. The editorial ends with the idea that a “hard death in a lonely ravine” possibly awaits feral cats if they are not “eradicat[ed]” through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR).

Setting the scene with an acknowledgment of inaction is a perfect argument for TNR, which is part of a philosophy of compassionate action. Luzzatto uses “Release”; TNR advocates prefer “Return.” The point is to “trap” the cats for “neutering” (or spaying) and then “return” them to their habitats. Ear-tipping and vaccination are also recognized components of TNR protocol. Additionally, those involved in TNR foster and adopt as part of the overall strategy in reducing these populations.

Inherent in TNR advocacy, too, is the belief that feral cats don’t belong in shelters, where their only outcome is death.*

Luzzatto presents some intriguing, important ideas concerning companion animal populations. He also says that “the simple fact is that humans…have never cared enough for cats and dogs to do right by them…It’s how you get to advocates for feral cats arguing that they should be captured, neutered and released.” Unfortunately, his discussion ignores the fact that people who want the option to practice TNR as part of conscientious care for feral/community cats are not the cause of the problem. Where they see “human irresponsibility,” they want to take action that saves lives in the immediate and long-term future. Again and again, Spay Hampton Roads encounters people who do care and who do want “to do right” by animals.

Like Luzzatto, we hope spay/neuter becomes “so commonplace that there aren’t thousands of new animals killed every year.” We take a different perspective, though, on the role the community can play in this outcome.

* Some communities have “barn cat” programs for unsocialized/feral cats.

Wrapping up 2013 and looking ahead

Spay/Neuter Surgeries

Our work continued to focus on Norfolk, and we had more funding to move out into the surrounding Hampton Roads area. As in 2012, we helped residents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. In 2013, we also helped residents in Suffolk, Hampton, and Gates County (NC). Through our program, 431 cats and 187 dogs were spayed/neutered.

Maui from OV on the way to the clinic

On the way to the clinic

Current vaccinations are often required with surgery. In some cases, we were able to provide additional funds for those services, but many of our clients were able to pay for this care themselves. Once we’d reached out to them about spay/neuter and helped them get to the clinics, they completed the process of vetting and sterilizing their pets.

Education + Initiative = Saved Lives. We couldn’t do this without the help of our funders, surgery providers, and the community members who contact us and spread the word to their neighbors and friends.

With surgeries moved from mobile services to clinics, we’ve had less opportunity to hear your stories. If we helped you and your furry companion(s) in 2013, please share your story and/or a picture with us here or on Facebook.

Funding

In 2013, our Project Fixed Owned Cats was funded by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Thanks ASPCA!

2014 will be a year of looking at grant opportunities. As more communities and organizations focus on spay/neuter as a tool for controlling homeless animal populations, there is more competition for funding. Terrific, on one hand – Challenging, on the other.

Still available from a 2013 grant are funds for spay/neuter for owned dogs that weigh at least 40 pounds. We need to spend this money by the end of March, so please apply or tell friends and family who qualify to hurry and apply. Use our online form and be sure to include the dog’s current weight.

Community Outreach and Education

Before there was Spay Hampton Roads, our efforts with Animal Rescue of Tidewater (now Animal Resources of Tidewater) began with outreach in Ocean View, and over the years, we’ve consistently had good turn out and support from this community. In April, volunteers spoke to the Ocean View Civic League (Norfolk). We provided an overview of our program for owned animals as well as TNR assistance for Norfolk cats. The feedback was very positive, and we were thankful for the opportunity.

BMS Animal Awareness Club (with cat ambassador, Leo)

BMS Animal Awareness Club (with cat ambassador, Leo)

In May, volunteers spoke with Brandon Middle School’s (VB) Animal Awareness Club about community cats and TNR. We were able to bring an animal ambassador, and Leo (aka, The Dude) joined the meeting. One of the students commented that “finally” someone brought a cat. Dogs are usually better in these situations, but Leo kept his cool, showing why he’s called The Dude.

TNR continued to be a subject of our outreach efforts. In July, one of our volunteers spoke with WTKR about TNR, following the story of Tiffany D’Andrea.

Why TNR? Simply put, because there is a need:

Through outreach and simply talking with residents, we learned that many people using our program for cats are caring for stray, abandoned, and other kinds of community cats. They frequently begin by feeding, without necessarily planning beyond that, and in some cases seem hesitant to do more, fearing they will get in trouble by identifying themselves as the (default) caretakers. They want to help but are not sure what to do.

Unfortunately, too, there is a lot of misinformation. People can’t make informed decisions with false or misleading information.

So how do we protect cats? … We can educate ourselves with accurate information, promote open, honest communication, and encourage citizens to take fuller responsibility for the animals in their care. We can believe people are inherently good, and we can work together to save lives.

We applied this sentiment to TNR, but it holds true for the protection and care of all companion animals. In 2014, we will continue to focus on spay/neuter as a tool in reducing companion animal populations and thus ultimately saving more of their lives.

A few resources

Low cost clinics in Hampton Roads

Spay/Neuter clinics nationwide

Spay/neuter outreach and education media: A new campaign from Humane Alliance

Adoption, education, and outreach events of all kinds in Hampton Roads: Waggin’ Tails blog (look for weekly round ups of events)

Adopt a pet: Petfinder, Petango (shelter and other rescue pets are usually already spay/neuter, vaccinated, and microchipped)

We want to know how we can

A letter to the editor in yesterday’s Virginian-Pilot censures TNR because of the risk of ringworm from a sandbox. The letter was written in response to “Norfolk Council Wants Fewer Animals Euthanized” (12/4/13) and notes that “someone mentioned that children are getting infected with ringworm after playing in a neighborhood sandbox” at the council meeting. The letter also calls Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) “a short-sighted option.”

The “someone” was Sarah Bishop, who spoke on a different topic. Ms. Bishop’s comments regarding ringworm were made in connection to playgrounds and came approximately six minutes (5:50) into the meeting, 50 minutes before David Freeman began speaking about the Animal Advisory Board or TNR was discussed.

Ringworm is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed to humans. There’s no connection, though, between TNR and ringworm: Any cat can have and transmit ringworm.

From January to the end of November of this year, 1,672, or 61%, of cats that entered the Norfolk city shelter were killed. Since 2004, this statistic has held steady at 60% to 75%. If TNR is “a short-sighted option,” what does the author, and other TNR opponents, propose as a long-term option? The status quo is not saving lives. To borrow Council member Protogyrou’s words, “[We] don’t want to know how we can’t…[we] want to know how we can.”