Pet of the Week by Asha
July 7, 2010, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Outreach | Tags: , , , , , ,

There is so much cuteness at Emancipet that I feel bad keeping it all to myself, so I’m sharing it with you! The debate over what makes the cutest pet is a heated one that happens almost daily inside the walls of Emancipet. Since I have the password to the blog, I win this time with a sweet puppy that visited yesterday named, Princess Charlie.

When I tell people what I do, they always say, “Oh, I couldn’t work there.  I would want to take all of them home.”  Well, the vast majority of our patients only visit us for the day for services, and go back to their loving families at night, which makes taking them home with me a real no-no. Princess Charlie was here visiting Amber, our wellness technician extraordinaire, for her first round of puppy shots and will be back soon to be spayed.


Reaching Out by Asha
March 5, 2010, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Outreach | Tags: , , ,

If you would have asked, I never would have imagined a few years ago that I would be doing what I am today. I knew I wanted to help “people” so I received my graduate degree in Social Work. Long story short, I adopted my first dog, Miko, who is the love of my life and quickly taught me what so many already knew- that pets are some of the best “people” around.  Years later, I jumped at the opportunity to interview with Emancipet and here I am.   

My position in outreach involves coordinating events, managing volunteers, media and the ever-so-popular social media relations, and communications. I have found over and over again that people are genuinely interested in the work we do and I want to share that with you here.  Hopefully, you will find my journey into this work as exciting as I have.  If there is something you want to hear more about – tell me and I’ll fill you in.

Ten Years and 100,000 Surgeries Later by Amy

Kelli became the 100,000th patient spayed at EMANCIPE+ on June 3, 2009Well, this has been quite a whirlwind week for us at EMANCIPE+.  On Wednesday, we successfully completed our 100,000th spay/neuter surgery on a beautiful lab mix named Kelli.  She seemed pretty happy about the news that she would be the 100,000th patient, as she barked joyously when we made the announcement in the lobby that morning.  She and her dad, Bobby, received a gift basket with goodies donated by the ASPCA, Town Lake Animal Center, and EMANCIPE+, including lots of dog treats and an iPod shuffle.  We learned from Bobby that Kelli was a new addition to the family.  They recently adopted her from a family who found her as a stray and cared for her until she was adopted, as they were unable to locate her original owners.  Bobby seems to be pretty smitten with this special dog, so it sounds like she’s got a long and happy life ahead of her.  We are proud that we got to be a part of her life for a little while.

Then, yesterday, we celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a fundraiser and celebration at the Hyatt.  10th Anniversary LuncheonI was so moved to see so many people in the crowd who cared enough about animals to spend part of a busy day with us and contribute to our efforts. In my remarks yesterday, I told our guests that we are finally seeing that it is possible to make Austin a community where no cat or dog is ever killed just for being homeless.  The facts coming out of Austin’s shelters are telling the story that programs like ours, along with the other life-saving programs in our community and at the shelters, are working.

And so, here we are.  100,000 surgeries and ten years have gone by and finally, we are seeing hope that our vision is becoming a reality.  I have always had faith that our efforts were worthwhile, but I am now 100% confident that we will reach our goal of ending the unnecessary killing of homeless pets in Austin, and I don’t think it’s that far away.  Part of my confidence comes from my strong faith in the partnerships we have built with area shelters, rescue groups, and animal welfare organizations who all share the same goal.  With all of us working together on proven, strategic, and efficient programs, I have no doubt that we will succeed, and soon.

On June 9, our “real” 10th Anniversary, we will be kicking off a special fundraising campaign.  This will be an accessible and affordable way for people to get involved and help us raise much needed funds for our next 100,000 surgeries.  Stay tuned to our web site and this blog for details in the next few days.

Animals on the Lege by Amy

This legislative session is shaping up to be an exciting one for Texas animals.  Just a quick glance at the animal-related bills being considered (puppy mill licensing, mandatory spay/neuter, etc) shows that our lawmakers are carefully considering ways to improve the lives of animals in Texas.  It’s definitely encouraging, but it can be challenging to stay up to date on all the humane legislation being considered in Texas.  To stay informed about developments at the Capitol, I go to two online sources and I thought they might be useful to you.

I prefer to start by going straight to the source and reading the full text of a bill without commentary.  If you like to do the same, you should visit the web site for Texas Legislature Online and set up a “My TLO.”  This is a free, personalized service that allows you to search for bills by keywords or subject areas and set up alerts that can be sent to you via e-mail or even your cell phone when an action is taken on bills in your lists.  I really appreciate getting an e-mail when a bill I am watching goes to committee or gets a hearing date.  I also get an alert if any new bills are introduced that might be of interest to me.  From the e-mail alert, I can easily click through and track progress on the bill as well as read it in it’s full format to help me get objective, detailed information.

After I’ve done that, I like to get a more subjective take on the bill from a source like the the Texas Humane Legislation Network for background information and analysis, and to get their take on the potential impact of the bill.  THLN is a non-profit that advocates for the enactment and enforcement of laws that ensure the humane treatment of Texas’ animals.  They maintain an action alert list of current bills that will have an impact on animals, and you can sign up for an e-mail alert system here as well.  You won’t get full text or the more technical information you can get directly from the TLO, but you can get very valuable information that will help you form an opinion about a bill, as well as directing you to take specific actions to help when needed.

I hope you find both of these sources as helpful as I have, and I encourage you to get informed about bills that might impact companion animals and thier owners in Texas. At the very least, it is exciting to get regular e-mails that reflect our great state’s progress towards becoming a more humane place for animals and the people who love them.

Pet Wellness Fair Video by Amy

Check out our video of last weekend’s 2009 Pet Wellness Fair, which I wrote about in March.  The event was this last Saturday and was a project of EMANCIPE+, Meals on Wheels and More, Blue Dog Rescue, and Town Lake Animal Center.  We had a great turnout and were able to spay, neuter, and/or provide veterinary care for almost 130 dogs and cats in need.  These pets were all owned by Meals on Wheels and More clients who could not afford or access full service veterinary care.  It was a wonderful day thanks to the hard work and collaboaration of the organizing groups and the many TLAC, Blue Dog, and MOWAM volunteers who stepped forward to help these people and pets in need.

“Early” Spay/Neuter by Amy
March 17, 2009, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , , , ,

Years ago, veterinarians regularly advised pet owners to put off spay/neuter until their pet was at least six months old, or allow females to go through one “heat cycle,” or even have a litter first.  These views are pretty outdated these days, and “early” spay/neuter is now supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association.  At EMANCIPE+, we have encouraged early spay/neuter for years.  Our vets regularly sterilize kittens and puppies as young as three months old (provided they weigh at least three pounds) and have witnessed first hand the benefits of early sterilization.

Dr. Kimberly Bodner, our Interim Medical Director, recently shared with me her personal observations about spaying and neutering puppies and kittens under 5 months old.  She says, “the differences we observe with surgery recovery with our pediatric patients compared to adult dogs and cats are amazing.  The young patients wake up quicker and with much less discomfort.  They are ready to eat and go home in just a few hours!  This is likely due to the decreased time these animals are under anesthesia and the decreased bleeding and tissue manipulation involved in their very quick surgeries.”

Her experience and observation are backed up by over two decades of retrospective research.  Dr. Bodner explains it like this:  “Recent research has calmed the fears of those concerned about any immediate or future health risks of early spay/neuter.  For instance, we now know that there is no medical evidence to justify allowing a dog or cat to have a litter or even have one heat cycle before being spayed.  In fact, a female dog or cat has the best chances of good health if spayed well before her first heat; her risk of developing malignant breast cancer is almost eliminated, and her chances of developing ovarian cancer or fatal uterine infections is taken down to zero.  Males also have health benefits associated with early neutering, such as a decreased incidence of testicular cancer, prostate enlargement and cancer, and certain types of hernias.”

Two of my own dogs, Banjo and Angus, were spayed at nine weeks old by Dr. Williams at EMANCIPE+.  By the end of the day, they were up, alert, and ready to go on to more important things like finding where I hid the dirty laundry basket.  I guess with spay/neuter, as with so many things in life – sooner is better than later.

Outreach, Kansas City-Style by Amy
March 9, 2009, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Executive Director | Tags: , , ,

Wolf enjoys his new toy

One of the many things I love about my job is getting to visit other spay/neuter clinics.  Talking about strategies to target the animals most in need is always energizing and inspiring.  This weekend, I traveled to Kansas City on a college tour, trying to help my little sister, who is a high school senior, determine where she will spend the next four years.  Happily, I was also able to squeeze in a visit to Spay Neuter Kansas City on one of their “Outreach Days.”

After a brief but thorough orientation, they put us into groups of four and we drove to one of Kansas City’s poorest neighborhoods.  We divided the neighborhood by streets and went door to door, offering free and reduced-cost spay/neuter, shots and other necessities like dog houses, collars and tie outs to replace the heavy chains and pad-locks worn by many of the dogs in the neighborhood.  Almost every person we talked to was incredibly grateful for our presence and the services provided by SNKC.

One gentleman we talked to called the surprise visit a “blessing” and agreed to spay and neuter his three pit bull puppies this week.  Another gentleman quickly agreed to have two of his dogs neutered and invited us into his backyard to show them off.  Two of the dogs were living on heavy chains, with padlocked chain collars, but he instantly agreed to switch them out when we offered a more humane alternative.  Despite the living conditions, it was clear to me that he cared about his dogs a great deal, and was eager for more information about how to make their lives better.

This experience was a powerful reminder to me that most pet owners love their pets very much, and sometimes, all they need is a little help and education to do the right thing for their pets.   It also highlighted for me how important it is to be proactive about reaching out to people whose pets are most at-risk for homelessness and euthanasia.  It is not always enough to make spay/neuter available for those who will seek it out.  Sometimes, we have to bring the services right to people’s doorsteps.

This SNKC staffer signs a pit up for s/n

The City of Austin has taken some early steps towards creating something like this in our own community.  For the last few weeks, Animal Control Officers and staff from Town Lake Animal Center have gone door to door in a low-income neighborhood in Austin offering free spay/neuter at EMANCIPE+ in addition to other services, like fencing assistance.  Many people have taken them up on the offer despite the fact that our mobile clinic regularly offers free surgery in this neighborhood.  In just a short time, we have spayed or neutered almost 30 dogs through this program, most of those pit bulls, which are one of our “target breeds.”

While this program is still in a pilot phase, I think it is a great start towards reaching out to those pet owners who are unlikely to ever seek out our free or low-cost spay/neuter program, and has the potential to improve the quality of life of dogs living in substandard conditions in Austin.  I would love to see this program grow and become a valuable part of our own strategy for reducing intake at our city shelter, and I would love to tell our friends at Spay Neuter Kansas City how they have inspired us to do more for the animals most in need in our community.