NACA’s September Humane Highlight

Meet Sarah! NACA’s September Humane Highlight

Sarah Rueli of Shelterluv software is part of the Growth and Customer Success team. Like most of us, at a young age, Sarah developed a strong passion for helping animals and people. She volunteered at her local shelter in Massachusetts and even one day lied to her parents about “finding” what then became a lifelong family cat. In 2015, she started working for a national pet food and retail brand. After moving cross country, she accepted a position on Michelson Found Animals’ marketing team in 2016 where she worked closely with their two Southern California adoption centers and broadened her knowledge on pet reunification. Now at Shelterluv, Sarah works directly with animal welfare organizations to ensure they have access to technology to make their lives easier and advises them on best practices.

Becoming a member of NACA and attending NACA conferences have given Sarah the opportunity to learn more about the important role of field and animal services professionals and the tremendous work they do in their communities. NACA has facilitated Sarah and the Shelterluv team’s ability to keep up with industry trends and learnings in order to develop their product to anticipate and meet the needs of the people that use it.

Sarah currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with her two cats Yui and Arnie. She enjoys volunteering and fostering with local and international shelter and rescue organizations. She enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and meeting new people with the same passions. Sarah thanks each and every one of you for your hardwork and dedication and encourages you to reach out to say hello or with any questions at sarah@shelterluv.com. See you around! =)

Meet Sheila! NACA’s August Humane Highlight

Meet Sheila! NACA’s August Humane Highlight

Sheila Kouhkan is the Director of Client Services for Pethealth Inc., the umbrella organization for PetPoint, Chameleon, 24PetWatch microchips and lost & found registry, 24PetWatch pet insurance, and Michelson Found Animals microchips and registry. Sheila’s role primarily focuses on building valuable relationships and increasing lifesaving opportunities with partners using the many tools available to bring families together and keep them together. She started her professional career in animal welfare in 2009, working on compassionate legislation for the City of Los Angeles. She assisted with the passage of such measures as the bans on the commercial sale of puppy mill dogs, cat declawing, and the use of bull hooks on elephants in traveling shows. She began working in the world of animal welfare nonprofits in 2015 when she joined the team at Best Friends Animal Society, collaborating with local rescues to make Los Angeles a no-kill city. In 2017, Sheila accepted the Maddie’s® Fund Executive Leadership Fellowship and joined the teams at Austin Pets Alive! and Austin Animal Center in Texas, where she learned the ins and outs of animal welfare leadership and gained a passion for disaster response. Sheila is committed to using her diverse background and the resources available in her current role to bring vitality to lives furry and otherwise.

Sheila is thrilled to be a member of NACA and finds that it is a great way to connect with partners across the country. Through this organization, Sheila has been able to connect with leaders who have been in the industry for many years. These connections are extremely valuable when understanding how and why the industry has evolved into what it is today. Animal welfare is a dynamic industry and being a part of this group is like having a lifeline to the realities of our society and where we are headed. Gaining a deeper understanding of animal welfare through NACA has facilitated Sheila and the Pethealth team to ensure a focus on tools and resources to support shelter partners with their lifesaving goals and to keep pets with their families.

Sheila lives in San Diego, CA with her Husky mix, Ziba, and enjoys fostering for local shelter partners. She is always on the go and loves visiting organizations and hosting virtual happy hours to learn more about the great work they do. Feel free to reach out to Sheila to grab a virtual drink at Sheila.Kouhkan@pethealthinc.com.

Animal Control Intake of Healthy Wildlife

Animal Control Intake of Healthy Wildlife

It is the position of NACA that picking up, accepting, impounding or destroying healthy and treatable wildlife is a misuse of officer time and public funds and is not consistent with the humane mission of animal welfare organizations. Additionally, extermination of healthy wildlife does not result in long term human/animal conflict resolution. As an alternative to impounding and destroying healthy and treatable wildlife, NACA recommends animal control provide education on wild animals in the area as well as effective and humane methods to deter and exclude animals from homes, structures and targeted areas. It is further the position of NACA that, at every opportunity, officers should work to educate the public regarding humane coexistence with wildlife.

NACA recognizes some injured animals may need to be humanely euthanized by officers, as in the case of seriously injured deer. For injured, treatable animals, NACA recommends animal control agencies partner with reputable wildlife rehabilitation organizations so injured animals can be transported by animal control to a rehab center in cases when the animal’s life may be saved.

References:

San Diego Humane Society Coexisting With Wildlife web page

Project Coyote recommendations for Coexistence with Coyotes

Science Daily co-existing with wildlife journal article

Humane Society Wildlife Management tools and guidelines

Animal Control Intake of Free-Roaming Cats

Animal Control Intake of Free-Roaming Cats

It is the position [policy] of the National Animal Care & Control Association that, at every opportunity, officers should [will] work to educate the public regarding humane and responsible co-existence and care of pet and community cats, to include education on the benefits and resources for spay/neuter and vaccination; responsible feeding and management practices for those choosing to care for community cats; and effective methods to humanely deter and exclude animals from homes, structures and targeted areas. It is the position of NACA that indiscriminate pick up or admission of healthy, free-roaming cats, regardless of temperament, for any purpose other than TNR/SNR, fails to serve commonly held goals of community animal management and protection programs and, as such, is a misuse of time and public funds and should be avoided.

  • Impoundment of healthy adult cats reduces the likelihood of reuniting families with pets:
    Lost cats are 10-50 times more likely to be reunited with their owners if they stay in the neighborhood of origin than through an animal shelter. In fact, the most successful reunification method for cats is the cat returning home on its own. A family may not consider their free-roaming cat lost until the point when the cat is removed from the neighborhood and transported to a shelter.
    • Impoundment of healthy adult cats may disproportionately impact under-served and marginalized communities
      • Only 16% of participants in a program supporting low income pet owners have ever called or visited an animal shelter, and only 3% of pets in the same demographic were adopted from a shelter (compared to 30-40% for the general U.S. population), suggesting that impoundment is likely to be a one way journey for pets belonging to low income community members.
      • Only ~40 % of people in the lowest income bracket (<$30,000 annual income) that lost cats were reunited with them, compared to > $90% reunited for those making $50,000 or more per year.
  • Impoundment has the potential to increase cat populations and impact: The haphazard removal of individual cats is not population management. Removal of cats without concurrent control of the food source has been linked to paradoxical increases in cat populations by as much as 200%.
    • Kittens pose a greater risk than adult cats for shedding and spreading parasites with wildlife and/or public health implications (e.g. toxoplasmosis, Toxocara cati, Ancylostoma spp.),
    • therefore removing adult cats and destabilizing population age structures further increases risks to the environment.
  • Impoundment fails to resolve the inciting factors for nuisance situations: if cats are simply impounded, community members may not be motivated to identify and remedy factors such as open garbage containers that may be attracting cats as well as nuisance wildlife. TNR programs that leave cats where they are have been associated with significant reductions in nuisance complaints.
  • Impoundment of healthy free roaming cats reduces capacity to respond to critical community needs: historically “stray cats” have made up the majority of intake at North American shelters. This can leave shelters overwhelmed, overcrowded and less able to provide appropriate care and outcomes for those animals that do require sheltering (such as sick and injured animals, those whose owners can no longer keep them, and animals that have been neglected or abused).

Impounding healthy cats is not the best way to provide services to these cats and the residents in the area in which the cats are found. NACA advises officers to take proactive steps to divert intake of “stray cats” while offering services that support the goals of community animal management and protection programs:

  • Refer the public to local organizations or other staff/programs within the shelter that focus on trap-neuter-return, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, or utilize a return-to-home program within the agency if outside resources are not available or accessible.
  • Support ongoing care of community cats with information on best feeding practices, referrals to pet pantries and sources for outdoor cat shelters, etc. to reduce likelihood of future complaints and contribute to the wellbeing of the individual community cats. Feeding bans are not effective strategies for dispersing congregations of cats or mitigating complaints.
  • Work with residents to mitigate nuisance complaints, deploying a range of available tools (e.g., humane deterrents) and collaborating with caregivers and local TNR and rescue groups.

Exceptions to this policy should be made to mitigate exigent risk or to alleviate significant nuisance situations that can’t be otherwise remedied (e.g. with counseling/education of caretakers, sterilization and vaccination of cats, use of humane deterrents). These circumstances are best identified through a managed admission program that includes contact and counseling prior to intake. Staff should be informed and encouraged to use their judgement on a case by case basis. Exceptions may include the following:

  • Evidence of abandonment: Most cats in good body condition are receiving care, however in some circumstances it may be known that a cat has been recently abandoned, e.g. because it is known that the former owners moved and are not returning to care for the cats, or because the structure where the cat was known to be living was recently destroyed.
  • Evidence of being lost and unable to reunite: While cats are more likely to return home on their own or through posting in their neighborhood of origin, it may be appropriate to admit a healthy free roaming cat if efforts have already been made to reunite it with the owner (e.g. posting in neighborhood of origin and social media without results; cat has been seen for an extended time without encouragement by feeding).
  • Issues with larger groups: Large aggregations of cats may be associated with greater nuisance and risks than individual free roaming cats. A multi-faceted approach should be taken in these cases that leads to gradual reduction or elimination of the group, such as: a combination of caretaker education, sterilization and gradual removal to adoption, and relocation to working cat homes.
  • Specific risks identified for wildlife: Removal may be part of a multi-faceted approach to cat management in protected habitats for sensitive wildlife species. However, even in these cases, ad hoc removal (lethal or non-lethal) has not been demonstrated to be effective and in some cases has led to paradoxical population increases in target areas. Unless new arrivals can be excluded by fencing, removal must be sufficiently intensive and sustained to outpace new immigration and breeding, the natural consequence of a decrease in population density. Community buy-in is critical for success and a multi-faceted approach is required that includes input from natural resource personnel, animal services staff and cat advocates.

CONTRIBUTOR CREDIT:  Dr. Kate Hurley

REFERENCES:

  1. Lord, L.K., et al., Search and identification methods that owners use to find a lost cat. J Am Vet Med Assoc, 2007. 230(2): p. 217-20.
  2. E. Weiss, M. Slater, L. Lord, et al. Frequency of Lost Dogs and Cats in the United States and the Methods Used to Locate Them. Animals (Basel). 2012 Jun; 2(2): 301–315.
  3. Pets For Life 2017 Program Report. 2017. p. 16
  4. Hill, et al. Humans and Animal Vulnerability Study.
  5. Lazenby, B.T., Mooney, N.J., and Dickman, C.R. (2014). Effects of low-level culling of feral cats in open populations: a case study from the forests of southern Tasmania. Wildlife Research, 41, 401-420.
  6. Finkler H, Gunther I, and Terkel J. “Behavioral differences between urban feeding groups of neutered and sexually intact free-roaming cats following a trap-neuter-return procedure.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 238, no. 9 (2011); 1141–1149.
  7. Levy JK, Isaza NM, Scott KC. Effect of high-impact targeted trap-neuter-return and adoption of community cats on cat intake to a shelter. Vet J. 2014 Sep;201(3):269-74.
  8. National Feline Research Council: Feral cat feeding bans: The reasoning, risks, and results, 2020

NACA First Responders Position Statement

Animal Control Officers Should Be Considered First Responders

The National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) believes all animal field services professionals (animal control, animal protection, etc.), should be considered and treated as first responders. The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Systems define first responders as “individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment”. Animal control officers and other animal field services professionals meet this definition.

The very core of the work of an animal control officer is deeply rooted in community engagement, public safety and the welfare of non-human animals. Historically, animal control officers were on the frontline of protecting communities and addressing public health concerns such as preventing the spread of the rabies virus. Their early role has now been dramatically expanded to include providing community support and outreach, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, and saving animals who are in immediate danger. Additionally, they work alongside other first responders such as law enforcement, EMTs, and firefighters on a regular basis during weather emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic events.

Communities and local municipal agencies should view and support their animal control officers at the same level as other first responders. Additionally, communities and local government agencies should provide on-going training, equipment, and resources necessary to support the work of their animal control officers working at the frontline of their community.

Homeland Security Act of 2002. (2019, May 28). Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.dhs.gov/homeland-security-act-200​

Download: NACA First Responders Position Statement (pdf)

NACA Statement on Officer Safety

NACA Statement on Officer Safety

In this challenging time, we are deeply concerned for the safety of animal control officers around the nation, who continue their work of saving lives and protecting pets and people. Despite the varying situations happening in many of our cities, we want you to know we are with you and thinking of you during this troubling time. We are here for you. Please be safe out there!

In an effort to provide guidance to agencies operating the essential service that is Animal Control, NACA has developed the following recommendations:

– Receive direction from local law enforcement on areas that will be of risk, closed or otherwise have restricted access, and those determined safe for regular responses.

– Agencies should adjust responses as appropriate per the direction received from law enforcement.

– If an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is active in your community, ensure that an Agency representative is available to receive briefings and coordinate with other Agencies quickly. Time and effective communication are paramount in these situations.

– Establish policies for the protection of officers to include individual safety measures, personal protective equipment, and law enforcement support as needed. Refer to the NACA guidelines specifically on the safe use of personal protection equipment

– Provide daily briefings of the evolving situation in the community (non-animal related).

– Ensure any staff working in the field or in a vulnerable position always have at least 2 forms of communication (cell phone, radio, laptop, etc.) in help ensure emergency communication, if needed, is available.

Download: NACA statement on officer safety (pdf)