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Fostering Stray Cats Gave Me Purpose

From the New York Times - an excerpt  on the movement to rescue feral cats. Inspiring!

Cat family portrait‘I Literally Had No One.’ Then the Foster Kittens Arrived.

Last summer, Jali Henry was feeling lonely and depressed after many of her friends moved out of the city because of the pandemic. “I literally had no one,” she said. “I was like, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’” Then she began noticing street cats in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where she lives: first, a group of four that lived behind a school; then, a cat on her block, obviously sick and infested with fleas. Ms. Henry, 28, who had started volunteering with the rescue group Puppy Kitty NYC, corralled the cat and took it to the vet. “I kind of chased her around the neighborhood, it was really crazy,” she said. “Random people stopped to help me.”

 

Longtime animal-rescue volunteers in the city suspect there are more stray and feral cats on the streets these days, but there are also, it turns out, more New Yorkers like Ms. Henry, who want to rescue and foster them. “On one hand, we have a group of people who are subject to financial and housing insecurity, which makes them more likely to have to part ways with their pet in a very tragic way, which leads to more cats on the street,” said Will Zweigart, the founder of the Brooklyn-based nonprofit Flatbush Cats. “An entirely different group is experiencing this pandemic with more free time. They’ve finished their Netflix queue, they’re aching for a sense of purpose.”

Betty Arce, a retired Education Department administrator who has been rescuing cats for eight years in the Bronx, said that she had never seen as many cats on the streets before, especially friendly cats and, starting last spring, kittens. “We suspect there is an increase, we just don’t know by how much,” said Kathleen O’Malley, who leads the Bideawee Feral Cat Initiative, which focuses on spaying and neutering community cats.

Neighborhood Cats, a group based in Manhattan, said its number of online donations doubled last April and May, and continue to come in at much higher rates than before the pandemic. Bryan Kortis, the national programs director, said he had also noticed an increase in the number of New Yorkers seeking training on how to help community cats. “They’re home more; they’re more aware of what’s going on in the backyard,” he said.

That’s what happened to Carmen Castillo-Barrett, a science teacher who lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Last June, she and her husband realized that three newborn kittens were living in their backyard. After she had the kittens and their mother fixed, Ms. Castillo-Barrett, 42, went through what she called an “interesting summer socializing feral cats.” She would sit beside the kittens as they ate, hissing at her, she said, until eventually they would let her touch them with just one finger. It provided a welcome distraction. “It was like a big experiment,” she said. If it hadn’t been for the pandemic, “it’s possible this could have happened and we wouldn’t have noticed.”

 

Cat volunteers still face major challenges. There is no city or state funding for organizations that trap, neuter and return cats to the streets. That method, which Bideawee practices, is endorsed by the A.S.P.C.A. and the Humane Society. The Audubon Society and other bird and wildlife advocacy organizations, however, oppose the practice because they consider outdoor cats a predatory threat to songbirds. And getting appointments for free or low-cost spaying and neutering, which has always been difficult, is even more so now.

Still, the rising interest in helping street cats during the pandemic offers a glimmer of hope for people like Mr. Zweigart, who, when not rescuing cats, researches the future of work as a brand strategist. “I’m very optimistic that past 2021 we’re only going to see a higher interest in fostering as people have higher flexibility and only spend more time at home,” he said.

Hayong Lau, 28, who lost her job at a cocktail bar last spring, began fostering kittens, even bottle-feeding a newborn every two hours at one point. “Fostering feels like we have something to control, and it just felt good to do something good,” she said. Ms. Henry, who also plans to continue fostering, has started documenting her experiences on Instagram, in the hopes of getting her charges adopted. “I want to eventually take in smaller kittens and expand my expertise,” she said.

 


Pets of the Art World

From Artnet -

Pets of the Art World! Meet 15 of the Adorable (Yet Edgy) Furry Friends Keeping Artists, Gallerists, and Curators Sane These Days

Perhaps the only beneficiaries of the pandemic today are pets, who are suddenly getting around-the-clock attention while their owners work from home. And the joys are mutual: With their fluffy cuddles, unconditional love, and inability to talk back, pets make great quarantine companions for people, too.

We asked art world insiders to share pictures of their whiskered work-from-home buddies, and how they’re helping to make this difficult time a little bit sweeter.

Here is one and there is a link to see the rest at the bottom of this post.

Princess Buttercup
(Caroline Goldstein’s Jug [Jack Russell x Pug])

HRH Princess Buttercup in bed. (Courtesy of Caroline Goldstein)

“Princess Buttercup is thrilled to have a captive audience whilst her humans are social distancing.”

Caroline Goldstein, editorial assistant, Artnet News

 

Check out this link to see all of the pets.


Hail New Zealand's Bird of the Year - The Green Parrot

He’s never gonna stop talking about this. The kākāpō, a flightless, nocturnal parrot, has been named New Zealand’s Bird of the Year in its annual online competition. It’s the first bird in the contest’s 15-year history to win twice, beloved as the heaviest and longest-lived parrot species on Earth. The competition was marred by vote rigging in favor of the little spotted kiwi, but authorities spotted the fraud and disqualified the suspect votes. While the win doesn’t carry a cash prize, it’s hoped it will raise awareness and affection for the critically endangered bright green birds.

Sources: New Zealand Herald, The Guardian


Advancements in Dog Orthotics Over the Year

Dog orthoticsHelene Petersen of KVP Orthotics writes to us to describe the available methods of improving the quality and mobility of our beloved dogs.
 
Over the years, there have been plenty of breakthroughs in the field of dog orthotics. As pet owners, this is certainly to our benefit. If before, there weren’t very many options for us to help
improve our dogs’ quality of life, now, there is hope.
 
Here are some of the recent advancements in dog orthotics.

Orthopedic Braces
One of the biggest advancements in dog orthotics today is orthopedic braces. Before, most injuries and orthopedic problems only have surgery as the solution. Nowadays, orthopedic braces can be used both as an alternative or adjunct to surgery. Our dogs no longer have to suffer from the pain and discomfort if they are not able to get surgery.

Back Brace
There is a wide range of orthopedic braces available for our dogs. One of the most common is a back brace. This is often given to dogs who have problems with their vertebral column or spine. Whether it’s for an injury or for correction of wrong posture, back braces are an excellent solution.

Knee Brace
Knees are perhaps the most commonly injured part of a dog’s limbs. This is specially for susceptible dog breeds like German Shepherd, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, and many more. You may ask your veterinarian if your dog is susceptible to this issue. A knee brace is often indicated for problems like anterior cruciate ligament or ACL tears as well as other ligament or tendon injuries in the knee.

Hock Brace
Hock braces are certainly unique to dogs. They are used to support our dog’s back legs. Oftentimes, dogs injure or strain their hock joint from trauma, overuse, and other factors. A hock brace can help them become more comfortable by reducing the swelling and inflammation in the area. Because of this, they are also great for old dogs suffering from arthritis.

Elbow Brace
Although less commonly injured, our dogs’ elbows are certainly not immune to problems. Elbow dysplasia is a disease of large dog breeds. They can be a very painful condition for the dog if not addressed properly. With an elbow brace, we can help improve their mobility and lessen the pain.

Fortunately, dog orthotics is a continuously evolving field. Through this, we can always rely to find the perfect solutions for our dog’s orthopedic problems. We can expect more innovations to come in the field. Thus, we can also expect more options and ways for us to improve our dogs’ lives."
 
 

Barry the Barrel Owl - Central Park's Latest Celebrity

Barry the owlThe New York Times just reported on NYC's latest celebrity.

‘I Had to See That Owl’: Central Park’s New Celebrity Bird

New Yorkers are so obsessed with Barry the barred owl that some are concerned he could be scared away. So far, he seems to like the attention.

It was late afternoon in the North Woods of Central Park, and the sun was setting fast. Joshua Kristal, a photographer with a penchant for birds, was starting to feel despondent as he searched along the creek, looking for any movement. This was the third time he’d traveled more than an hour from Brooklyn to see Manhattan’s newest celebrity bird: an ethereal and majestic barred owl.

Currently known as Barry, the owl has intense black eyes and elegant poufs of white feathers streaked with brown and gray. He looks like a perfect stuffed animal from a high-end toy store. But Barry is also unusual. Though owls are typically nocturnal, he makes regular daytime appearances, and has become something of a performer. Practically vogueing, he stares, preens and swoops into the shallow stream to wash and flick his feathers. Barry will turn his head 270 degrees right and left and up above to check for his archenemy, the hawk. He plucks chipmunks with his talons and devours them, seemingly unfazed by adoring fans and the paparazzi, many of whom have already made him Instagram-famous.

Barry the Barred Owl was first spotted on Oct. 9 by a group of devoted birders including Robert DeCandido, a New Yorker who has conducted bird walks in Central Park for some 32 years and is known as Birding Bob. The owl was an overnight sensation, not as flamboyant as the Mandarin duck two years ago but no less magnetic. Birders flock from all over to the Loch, a creek near 103rd Street and Central Park West, for a chance to see Barry.

Owls are more common in the city than people realize, and they have been spotted in every borough, Mr. DeCandido said. In Central Park, though, only one or two owls are usually spotted in a year, he added, and Barry is believed to be the only one in Central Park at the moment.

Barry most likely flew in from up north for a warmer temperature in which to hunt, but “only God knows,” Mr. DeCandido said. Barry is not nesting, as owls haven’t been found to nest in Central Park. He is roosting and putting on weight.

As social media bird alerts have become popular, there are more unique and rare birds reported in the city — like a recent sighting of a Virginia rail in Central Park, Mr. DeCandido said. “Before, if you saw something rare, who would you tell?” Mr. DeCandido said. “Now there is E-Bird and Manhattan Bird Alert, where bird sightings are reported almost immediately.”

But there are disagreements among birders on how healthy it is for humans to be stalking Barry, some using recorded bird calls to lure him out, surrounding him (at a respectful distance) and brandishing their cellphone cameras to capture the perfect image of a creature who typically does not like to be bothered.

Mr. Kristal learned of the owl from Manhattan Bird Alert, a Twitter feed that posts bird sightings throughout the city. When a Barry alert goes out, dozens of people show up, and fast. Therein lies the problem, said Dennis Hrehowsik, president of the Brooklyn Bird Club, based near Prospect Park. Owls are much too sensitive to be thronged, he said.

Birding in the city has grown more popular during the coronavirus outbreak, said Mr. Hrehowsik, who has led hundreds of bird tours. The quiet, meditative search for special birds — as many as 300 species of which live and migrate through New York City — can be soothing. And it’s a fresh-air activity, a key detail when it comes to safe pandemic pursuits.


The Most (and Least) Pet Friendly States in America

As a result of the pandemic, pet adoption rates have skyrocketed, increasing by nearly 90% in some cities.
 
Since so many Americans are also looking to move to a new home this year, the SafeWise team thought this was a perfect time to release their annual report ranking the best and worst states for pet owners.
Pet friendly states 

How we ranked the pet-friendly states

When it comes to pet-friendly states, we wanted to point out places where you and your pet will find a strong community with proper measures to protect animals.

We ranked states on the following:

  • Percentage of pet-friendly apartments (30%)1
  • Pet population (20%)2
  • Pets-left-in-car laws (10%)3
  • Veterinary reporting requirement laws (10%)4
  • Tether laws (10%)5
  • Anti-cruelty laws (15%)6,7
  • Animal fighting paraphernalia laws (5%)8

Note: We omitted Alaska and Hawaii because not all data points were available. See our animal ranking-factor or law overview sections for more information.

Read the full article here.