News of the Week 04-19-15

This Tuesday, April 21, at 9PM EST, Scott Trebatoski is giving a free webinar on Return to Field (RTF) for community cats. The webcast, presented by Maddie’s Fund, will have a 20 minute presentation and a 40-45 minute Q&A session, and did I say it’s free? Go ahead and sign up even if you cannot participate live, and Maddie’s will send you an e-mail with a link to watch it on demand as soon as it’s available.

There has been quite a bit of controversy over RTF programs, with some people believing that such programs discriminate against cats or make it less likely that owned cats will be reunited with their owners. I’ve even seen comments from some people who believe that RTF is just a way for shelters to artificially jack up their live release rates. Trebatoski’s webinar is a chance for people who have reservations about RTF to talk to an expert and find out what RTF is really about and why it works so much better for cats than the traditional shelter approach.

By the way, Hillsborough County, Florida, where Trebatoski is now director, is replicating the success of his previous city, Jacksonville. Since Trebatoski became director in Hillsborough a year ago, the live release rate has rapidly increased and in the last few months has been pushing 90%. In March 2015 the live release rate was 89% using the traditional calculation and 87% including animals who died or were lost in shelter care. Intake in March was 1,137 dogs and cats, and average length of stay was under 7 days. Hillsborough County includes the city of Tampa, and has an estimated population of about 1.3 million people.

In more RTF news, the state of Arizona has passed a law that exempts cats from the state’s mandatory 3-day hold period on the condition that they are sterilized and returned to field. Francis Battista of Best Friends has posted a blog on this new law and its importance to the Best Friends-PetSmart Charities community cat initiative in Pima County, Arizona. The blog has a nice summary of why RTF programs lead to better outcomes for cats (including a much higher chance of being reunited with their families) than traditional hold times.

HSUS’s Animal Sheltering magazine has an article in the March/April 2015 issue about the Chico, California, city shelter’s adaptation of the new cat paradigms to their local circumstances. The shelter first got buy-in for the program by consulting with the city government and the community. Owner surrendered cats now go to a local non-profit. The city shelter takes in sick or injured stray cats and orphaned kittens, and refers healthy community cats for TNR. Cat euthanasia dropped from 1,273 in 2011 to 88 in 2013, while cat intake dropped from 2,839 to 442. This program allows the shelter to concentrate on the sick, injured, and orphan stray cats who really need their help, while the healthy stray cats who are doing well remain in the field where many of them have homes.

The Charleston (South Carolina) Animal Society’s new kitten intensive care unit is now open. The society takes in 2500 kittens each year.

The news about dogs this week was mostly scientific and medical. Scientific American and Science magazine are reporting on research showing that when dogs and people gaze into each others’ eyes, both species have an increase in neurochemicals that are important in bonding. In other words, your dog really is feeling love for you when he or she looks into your eyes.

The canine flu outbreak in the Chicago area has been identified as caused by an H3N2 subtype. This is the first identification of an H3N2 subtype outside of Asia. Currently available canine vaccines are for the H3N8 subtype, and it is not known if there is any cross-immunity. The H3N2 virus can also infect cats. The Koret Shelter Medicine Program has made this list of resources available.

Maddie’s Fund has a new article on treatment of parvovirus in a shelter setting.

In other shelter and rescue news, Salt Lake County, Utah, is reporting that it had a 93% live release rate in 2014. The Jacksonville Humane Society has started a campaign for funds to build a new permanent shelter to replace the one that burned down in 2007, killing 86 animals. The HSUS is making an initial investment of $600,000 in programs to improve the situation for street dogs in Puerto Rico. And Dogster has a nice interview with a caring ACO officer in Atlanta to celebrate ACO Appreciation Week.