Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spay/Neuter is the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

How can we make the biggest difference in animal welfare? The answer may not tug at your heart as the story of an abused puppy or a box of kittens turned in at animal control, but there is no doubt that the biggest bangfor your buck is in spay/neuter programs.

I am always emotionally touched by stories of pets in severe need, and often we try to help those pets. We feel compelled to make a difference for that one dog or cat, and you, our supporters, always rise to the challenge of helping us make it a possibility. I continue to be awed by and grateful for your help.

But some parts of a broad animal welfare approach don't tug at the emotional heartstrings. A low-cost, widespread spay/neuter program is one of those parts. In the past five years, through Casper's Fund, our spay/neuter program, we have subsidized almost 1000 spay/neuter surgeries for Atlanta's pet owners. Our program has prevented thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from entering the rescue/abuse/stray cycle. And the pets who were fixed are healthier and happier as a result of not constantly dealing with the health and behavior complications that accompany an unfixed pet.

Spay/neuter isn't just good for the pets getting fixed. For an investment of around $75, we can spay or neuter a dog or cat. On average, a cat may have 3 litters a year of 4-5 kittens, and dogs may have 2 litters a year of 6-10 puppies. These are pets that would be listed on Craig's List, given away outside of Walmart, abandoned at vet's offices or surrendered to animal control. Or even worse, many of these puppies and kittens are just dumped in fields or left on the side of the road.

Can you imagine the cost and resources needed to take care of the homeless puppies and kittens into Atlanta's pet population? Your tax dollars pay for the ones that end up animal control. They are caught or trapped, housed and fed for the obligatory holding period, then euthanized. The cost per pet, even for those that stay 5 days and then are killed, is well over $75. For those that are lucky enough to make it to a rescue group, the cost to get them healthy and ready for a new home is $300-$400 minimum. For every $75 investment in spay/neuter, you can save the rescue groups at least $225.

We, as a community of pet lovers and animal welfare advocates, hate the killing that happens in Atlanta shelters. We lament the pet overpopulation problem, and often throw up our hands in frustration, asking "what can we do to really make a difference?"

The answer is very clear - support spay/neuter programs.

Puppy and kitten season is already starting! Together, let's prevent as many pets from entering the homeless pet population as possible.

Can you commit to fixing one in order to save hundreds


Donate to Support Casper's Fund

Friday, August 5, 2011

Our Pets Are What They Eat!

The commercial slowly fades in as the dog runs through the wheat field. The "healthy" ingredients rain from the sky - chunks of meat, vegetables, grains.

But look closely at the actual bag of food. What are the real ingredients? Poultry by-products, corn gluten meal, animal fat? This certainly isn't what the commercial might suggest.

Pet care goal for the day - read the ingredients on the bag or can of food you are feeding your pets.

Quality Foods Should Contain:

  • Superior sources of protein, either whole fresh meats or single source meat meal (e.g., chicken meal rather than poultry meal).
  • A whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients.
  • Whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables for dogs.
  • No grains or limited complex grains for cats.

Quality Foods Should NOT Contain:

  • Food fragments, which are lower-cost by-products of another food manufacturing process, such as wheat bran.
  • Meat by-products.
  • Proteins named generically (e.g., poultry fat instead of chicken)
  • Animal fats, which are often blended from a variety of rendered products, including restaurant grease. These fats are sprayed directly onto extruded kibbles and pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable.
  • Artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propyl gallate, and propylene glycol (a substance related to ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze). Propylene glycol is often added to "chewy" foods to keep them moist.
  • Processed grain products. Two of the top three ingredients in pet foods, particularly dry foods, are almost always some form of grain products. Why? Grains (corn in particular) are much cheaper fillers than meat!
  • Artificial colors, sweeteners, or any other additives made to enhance the appeal of a pet food.

Want more information on picking a quality dry, canned or raw food? Visit the links below or come in to AARF Pet Central and we'll help you find a good food for your pets.

How to Choose the Right Dog Food
Dog Food Advisor
Feeding Your Cat: Know the Basics of Feline Nutrition
Raw Fed Cats

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ban Bad Owners, Not Dogs

The city of College Park recently passed a new ordinance targeting "potentially dangerous dogs." All dogs who are predominantly one of six breeds (American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweiler, Doberman and German Shephard) must register the dog, pay a registration fee, have the dog microchipped and prove they have insurance to cover any damages.

There is no doubt about the following statement: THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE THAT BREED-SPECIFIC LEGISLATION IS EFFECTIVE AT MAKING COMMUNITIES SAFER. In many issues, I can often see the other side of the argument. Not this one.

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) is not based in real data, but instead, based in media sensationalism and fear.

  • All of the dogs on the "potentially dangerous dogs" list scored higher in the 2010-2011 American Temperament Test Society tests than Shih Tzus, Chihuahuas, Akitas, Bloodhounds, Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, and the Presidential dog, Portuguese Water Dogs, Why aren't any of these dogs on the list?
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) & American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have released statements against BSL.
  • BSL is expensive. The state of Georgia will spend over $12 million to enforce breed-specific legislation. How much will your state or county spend? Learn how much here.

There is so much evidence proving that BSL doesn't work. Yet. our communities continue to focus on banning the dogs instead of the owners. We can create much safer, humane communities by enacting and enforcing tougher leash laws, anti-chaining laws, animal cruelty laws and spay/neuter laws.

Learn how to combat BSL in your neighborhood, city, county and state here.

On a personal note: Three times I have required medical attention for a dog bite. Not one of the three was a dog on the "potentially dangerous dogs" list.