MADDIE'S FUND CHALLENGES ADOPTION MYTHS TO GET SHELTER PETS PLACED
If someone else pays the adoption fee when you adopt a pet, does it change how much you "value" the animal as a member of your family? How you answer that question may reveal how you feel about many of the changes currently underway in the shelter and rescue community.
It has long been a core belief in the community that people who didn't pay for a pet were more likely to "get rid of it" for pretty much any reason at all -- or for no reason at all.
In recent years, though, organizations such as Maddie's Fund, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and the No-Kill Advocacy Center have challenged those views and many others, working to increase the number of homeless animals placed in good homes by changing the way shelters do business.
One of the first things they looked at: the idea that adoption fees help pets find better homes. After Maddie's Fund experimented with paying the adoption fees for a relatively small adoption drive, the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine tracked the people and the pets they adopted. They found that the overwhelming majority of the animals were still in their homes months later, most sleeping on the beds of the people who adopted them.
This year, Maddie's Fund has expanded its adoption drive. On June 1 and June 2, more than 200 shelters and rescue groups from eight communities in five states will participate in the fourth annual Maddie's Pet Adoption Days, with Maddie's Fund ready with $4 million to provide the adoption fees that shelters and rescue groups are counting on. Adoption drive organizers hope to place 5,000 pets in new forever homes, adding to the nearly 7,000 pets placed in the three prior, more geographically limited events. (For locations and more information, go to Adopt.Maddiesfund.org.)
A few years ago, I would have been in the "people value what they pay for" camp. I ran a breed rescue for a couple of years, taking in and rehoming about 200 dogs in that time. You definitely can get burned out and cynical when dealing with people who are giving up pets.
But the relatively few "bad eggs" in the pet-owner population seem to get concentrated into the "baskets" of rescuers and shelter workers. It's easy to start thinking that pretty much everyone is a pet-dumping jerk, even those who don't want to give up pets but have to, such as when someone loses their home.
There will always be some people who don't do right by their pets, but studies show that most people truly are doing the very best they can for the pets they consider family. Even if sometimes the "best" is finding another home.
When you stop looking at everyone as an enemy, you can ask your communities for help -- and you'll get it. That's why this year I volunteered to help Maddie's Fund spread the word of this year's Pet Adoption Days. For weeks now, I've been helping the group connect with people who will share the information -- and with some, I hope, who'll adopt a pet!
We are pet-loving societies here in the United States and Canada, and Maddie's is truly on to something here. In providing shelters and rescue groups with the resources to change how they work with their communities, they're giving them room to change -- for the better.
It's a pretty good bet that 5,000 pets will find new homes during Maddie's Pet Adoption Days as planned, but it's just as likely that more hearts will be changed forever by drives like these than can be filled by shelters operating on their own.
And that's great news for pets and the people who love them.
What's the cure for
ringworm on a cat?
Q: My daughter has ringworm, and her pediatrician said our cat is the likely source. My husband and I caught it, too. Is there something we can do to treat this? We're tired of itching. -- via Facebook
A: Ringworm typically shows up as a red, hairless patch on people or pets, often in the shape of a ring. But it's caused by a fungus, not a worm of any kind. We veterinarians are exposed to ringworm in our patients so often that getting a case of it ourselves is not uncommon. Fortunately, it's not considered a serious condition, in either pets or people, even if it is an itchy one.
I'm going to assume that you're asking about treatment for your cat, since I hope you wouldn't be asking a veterinarian for human medical advice (although it surely wouldn't be the first time). You need to take your cat in for diagnosis and treatment. Your daughter's pediatrician's educated guess may be correct, but your veterinarian needs to confirm it.
Do be aware that while you can get ringworm from a pet, you're more likely to get it from another person. Places such as locker rooms are common areas where funguses might live, since moist, warm areas are a perfect breeding ground for them. Protect yourself by wearing sandals in locker rooms and communal showers and by not sharing towels with anyone. (When you get ringworm from a locker room, it's referred to as "athlete's foot.")
While dogs, cats and many other animals can get ringworm, cats are more likely to pick it up than other pets. To prevent the fungus from spreading, promptly take your pet to the veterinarian for diagnosis, treatment and a strategy to prevent a repeat infection. Ringworm can certainly be ugly and itchy, but it's usually not hard to cure in people or animals, and is typically treated with cream and pills. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
Scratching tops canine list
of reasons for veterinary visit
-- There's nothing that drives a dog crazier than itching, and nothing that drives the dog's owner to the veterinarian more quickly than scratching. That may be why three of the top 10 reasons that dog owners took their pets in for medical care in 2012 involved skin issues, according to the pet-health insurance company VPI. The Brea, Calif.-based VPI is the largest insurer of pet health in the country, and every year it issues a list of the top claims for dogs and cats. While itching was the top reason why dogs saw the veterinarian, urinary-tract problems led the list for cats, followed by dental disease and hyperthyroidism. VPI's data are based on an analysis of almost a half-million cats and dogs covered by the insurance.
-- A top racing greyhound running at full speed can hit 43 mph. Racehorses can go just a little faster. The cheetah can smoke them both, though, hitting 70 mph in full flight.
-- The maker of a sugar-free gum that guarded information about xylitol being an ingredient changed its policy after veterinarians pressed on behalf of poisoned pets. Xylitol is a replacement for sugar in many gums, candies and other products meant for human consumption, but the substance can be lethal to pets. The Veterinary Information Network News Service (news.vin.com) reports that the makers of Stride gum required veterinarians inquiring about xylitol levels to sign a non-disclosure agreement before it released information, causing a delay in treatment. The change in policy brought the company in line with the rest of the industry. The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center has tracked xylitol poisoning in pets since 2007; in 2012 it logged more than 3,000 calls on products containing the sweetener. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Gina Spadafori
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and also the authors of many best-selling pet care books. Dr. Becker can also be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker.