Lemonade “Give-Back” Totals $37,157.60!

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

Lemonade is a truly amazing company that all of us at SPCA International are honored to partner with. We are thrilled to be one of the organizations their customers choose to support through the innovative “give-back” program.

Lemonade is a home and renters insurance company that has built social good into their business model. They charge customers a flat fee and reserve the rest of customers’ premiums to pay claims. If there is any money left over at the end of the year. Guess what? That money goes to the customer’s charity of choice as a “give-back” donation.

I am beyond thrilled and so very humbled that many people chose to donate their unused premium to SPCA International this year. The “give-back” amount totals $37,157.60 and is more than we ever imagined! I am absolutely blown away by this generosity on behalf of the company and their customers.

 This donation will allow SPCA International to;

  • Rescue more U.S. soldiers’ battle buddies and reunite them with their heroes at home!
  • Fight the Dog Meat Trade through targeted grants to rescue organizations in China and South Korea working to end this cruel practice.
  • Combat cruelty and violence toward dogs and cats in Spain, Romania, and Tanzania through financial grants to organizations working in challenging communities.
  • Promote spay and neuter programs at U.S. consulates and embassies around the world.

We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Lemonade’s whole team since the start of this project. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to EVERYONE involved with Lemonade. From the visionary founders to the customers who selected SPCA International for their “give-back” donation, our work wouldn’t be possible without incredible people like you.

Consulate Cats: A Spay and Neuter Success

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

I just return­­ed from working in Iraq on an SPCA International spay and neuter event that was a wonderful example of proactive animal population control. 

At a U.S. consulate, diplomats, contractors, and soldiers have constant feline companions. Despite tall walls, cats continue to find their way inside and make the consulate their home. Several months ago, officials asked SPCA International to help contain the cat population in a humane and effective way.

Our SPCA International team immediately got to work with consulate representatives to set up initial and ongoing procedures to ensure the cats at the consulate remain healthy, are sterilized, and don’t become a nuisance to the people working there.

The initial event was a great success. Two dedicated veterinarians, Dr. Hannah from Canada and Dr. Hemin from Iraq worked together with three local vet techs and our team of three SPCA International staff members to treat 22 cats. Several of the cats were already spayed or neutered, so we gave them vaccination boosters to keep them healthy.

The rest of the cats were spayed or neutered and given time to recover before being released. By sterilizing these cats, thousands of future births have been prevented, which means the consulate will avoid an unmanageable cat population exposed to illnesses and other environmental threats.

I also had the pleasure of meeting a contractor who adopted one of the consulate cats. He is an army veteran who has been stationed away from his family for most deployments and contracts. He shared that his cat, Ginger, had been the bright spot during his time in Iraq, always waiting for him when he got home from work. His 11-year-old daughter in the U.S. has been so excited to meet her new cat that she bought a bed and toys weeks ahead of time.

I was honored to accompany Ginger the cat home to the U.S. where she met her new family and will have the pampered life she deserves while she waits for her Dad to finish out his contract.

SPCA International helped the consulate put a long-term plan in place to maintain the size and health of the consulate cat population. In the future, cats will be trapped, receive medical care, and be sterilized, if necessary, on a monthly basis. This plan will ensure new cats are treated quickly and the consulate cat population stays at a manageable, healthy size.

Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Animals

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

It might surprise you, but there is currently no federal law against animal cruelty. While all 50 states consider animal cruelty a felony offense, the lack of federal law means local law enforcement often struggles with cases involving federal land or multiple states.

So, I’m happy to share that federal lawmakers are reaching across party lines in support of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act which would make it illegal to crush, burn, drown, suffocate or impale animals.

This common-sense legislation is an important step toward the further protection of animals across the United States.

The bill focuses on intentional animal cruelty and includes provisions for veterinary care, hunting, and unintentional acts, among several other exemptions. Personally, I believe this bill falls short in exempting animals used in scientific research, but I believe it is still a step in the right direction.

This legislation would build upon existing federal laws that prohibit the dissemination of materials showing animal cruelty but don’t criminalize the actual act of animal cruelty under federal law.

By closing this loophole, federal resources could be directed to animal cruelty cases which means animals will be safer and abusers will face stiffer penalties.

I believe this law is long overdue and that animals in the United States deserve to receive protection and justice from the federal government. In my opinion, this bill is critically important to stopping animal abuse by deterring criminals and holding them accountable.

You can read the full text and track the bill on the official United States Congress website, and I encourage you to contact your legislators to share your thoughts on the bill.

2018 – A Year of Milestones

In 2018, UPS worked with us on four Operation Baghdad Pups: Worldwide rescues. Kelby was one of those dogs and the best part is…UPS caught Kelby’s reunion with her soldier on video. Spoiler alert – you might cry happy tears.

As I reflect on 2018, I can’t help but feel a sense of incredible gratitude to every person who had a hand in making 2018 SPCA International’s most successful year yet.  Volunteers, donors, shelter partners, staff members, and social media sharers are located around the world – yet everyone is united around the common goal of improving life for innocent animals. I’m so excited to share the accomplishments that each and every person who is involved with SPCA International made possible last year.

2018 was a year of milestones, we increased our global impact by partnering with new partners in Bosnia, Kurdistan, and Puerto Rico while providing increased support to existing shelter partners. In addition to millions of dollars of veterinary supplies, we also provided over $400,000 in direct grants to support these shelters.

As our Operation Baghdad Pups – Worldwide program celebrated 10 years of successful operation, we reunited more soldiers and battle buddy pets than ever before. Additionally, our Operation Military Pets program celebrated 5 years and a million dollars of transportation assistance to military families relocating with pets. Through these two programs, we helped keep 579 pets out of shelters and with the soldiers who love them.

We are proud to have supported the first 15 animals EVER adopted out of the Chernobyl nuclear exclusion zone, provided hurricane disaster relief and rebuilding support to shelters in the Caribbean, contributed to awareness and education about the abuse of Spanish Greyhounds and dogfighting. Together, we saved thousands of animals from suffering around the world – all of which was accomplished thanks to generous SPCA International supporters.

As I look forward to 2019, I’m optimistic that we will accomplish even more by building on the strong foundation of years past. We’re planning to expand our operations so that we can support the health, safety, and happiness of more animals around the world. Our plans include increased veterinary supplies and funds for spay and neuter campaigns and education in countries where animals are the most vulnerable, keeping more military members and their pets together, and increasing our efforts on behalf of suffering animals worldwide.


UPS Delivers A Soldier’s Wish

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

I continue to be amazed by the generosity of individuals and businesses that step up to save animals. When UPS told us they wanted to help reunite Lily and Kelby, I was overjoyed, but the story doesn’t end there. Lily and Kelby inspired the folks at UPS so much, that UPS donated funds to reunite three more dogs with US Soldiers.

Check out this heartwarming reunion video provided by UPS:

Animal Surrenders

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

Animal surrender is a subject that breaks hearts and makes tempers fly. A recent story of a police officer who dumped his retired police dog, Ringo, in a shelter left me shocked and heartbroken. The sad truth is, this officer did what many people do, but it became a news story because of Ringo’s unique history.

Most people would never surrender a pet, and we know those who do usually feel they have no other choice and can no longer care for their animal. However, when all other options have been exhausted there are some important guidelines that people should follow. 

People struggling to keep their animals because of changed circumstances or any other reason should always contact the agency they adopted their pet from. Many adoption agencies have resources to help people keep their animals or can assist with re-homing to ensure the animal is placed in the best possible situation. In fact, this stipulation is outlined in most adoption agreements. 

Ringo, the retired police dog, is now living with his original trainer, who will provide the retirement Ringo deserves after 9 years of service. The officer that abandoned Ringo has been demoted, and the police department is conducting an internal investigation. 

We don’t know the circumstances surrounding this surrender, but we do know that police departments often don’t pay for retired K9’s ongoing care. Fortunately, the Retired Police Canine Foundation is an organization that assists with veterinary care and other expenses for retired K9 police officers. 

Canine Warning Signs

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

Just as every human is unique, every dog is unique, we each thrive in some situations, but struggle in others.

Many of us adopt dogs with unknown pasts that can lead to seemingly “out of the blue” behaviors under certain circumstances. It always hurts my heart to hear that a dog is surrendered, rehomed, or even euthanized because of aggressive behavior – early identification of behaviors that signal discomfort can help us head-off potentially aggressive behavior.  

Of course, before bringing a dog into your home, you should do your due diligence to make sure that your home is appropriate for the dog’s temperament, but issues can arise well after initial adoption. Let’s take a look at some behavior warning signs and how we can deal with them before real aggression begins.

First of all, it is important to understand that aggression is often a defense mechanism. Our dogs can’t tell us with words if they are hurting, anxious, or uncomfortable so if we don’t pick up on their signals, aggressive behavior can seem like it comes without a warning.

Warning signs that all is not well with your dog:

  • Changes in body position- you know how your dog holds their ears and tail, how much white usually shows in their eyes, and how much of their teeth and gums are typically visible. Changes to any of these body positions are a good indicator that something isn’t right! Some of these signals are acute and some develop over time. For example, a drooping tail could mean an unnoticed injury or illness, while eyes showing more white than usual might be a fear response to an unknown visitor like a child who could pull hair or a man with a booming voice.
  • Out-of-character behavior- if your dog is suddenly shaking, yawning, licking in excess, or biting themselves, these are sure signs your dog is uncomfortable. Sometimes all it takes is stepping back and thinking about how the dog’s situation may have changed. Are there new people or pets in the home? Have you changed your routine? Are the people in your home under more stress than usual? As dogs become part of our families they pick up on the many obvious and not-so-obvious changes that affect our households.
  • Obvious waring signs- growling, snarling, and excessive barking are obvious warning signs that can lead to more serious aggression. Reprimanding for these behaviors may seem like the correct approach, but this can cause a dog to go from zero to ten in the future without ever displaying a warning. When your dog shows this kind of behavior, it is best to immediately change the situation to mitigate the behavior, then consider some of the following points.

How to address warning signs:

  • Make sure your dog is healthy- proper veterinary care is critical to ensuring your dog is comfortable. Untreated pain from illness or injury can cause even the kindest of dogs to react aggressively.
  • Training- most of us engage in dog-training when we first bring a new dog home, but there is never anything wrong with a refresher course. Professional dog trainers can often help identify and mitigate issues your dog is having.
  • Exercise and stimulation- a bored dog easily becomes an anxious dog, and an anxious dog is more likely to exhibit aggressive behaviors. Appropriate toys and plenty of exercise can reduce stress and help dogs be their best.
  • A safe place- this is one of the most important things. All dogs should have a safe place, like a crate, where they can go if they are uncomfortable. Without this option, dogs are often stuck in uncomfortable situations which can cause them to turn to aggression. Family members and guests should be taught to respect the dog’s “safe place”. 

In conclusion, I hope these tips are helpful to you and your furry friends! 

Cruelty Free Products

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

I am thrilled that Covergirl recently announced they have gone completely cruelty-free, making them the largest cosmetics company in the world to commit to this important standard.

This is an exciting step for cruelty-free beauty products, but I’m also pleased on a personal level. I haven’t used my favorite Covergirl All In One Mascara in years because of Covergirl’s past animal testing policy. Covergirl’s new policy means those of us committed to cruelty-free cosmetics now have more options than ever. 

Covergirl joins many other cruelty-free brands as Leaping Bunny certified, which means they and their suppliers engage in zero animal testing. Check out their list of cruelty-free home and beauty products, or you can download their app!

Another cruelty-free skincare brand I love is Pacifica. In addition to being cruelty-free, they also have other ways you can help the environment like a recycling program for used products. They’ll even send you a prepaid shipping label and give you a credit toward your next purchase. 

Today, more companies than ever are committing to kindness toward animals and the environment. Let’s hope more companies follow in Covergirl’s footsteps so we can all feel good about the products we buy!

$1 million to help military families keep their pets

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

I am so excited to share our recent accomplishment of surpassing $1 million in support for military families and their pets. The overwhelming feeling of this milestone is gratitude. Gratitude to all the people who support SPCA International through donations and advocacy, gratitude to our amazing staff team, and gratitude to our military members who sacrifice so much for the rest of us.

SPCA International’s Operation Military Pets program began in 2013 in response to the overwhelming number of animals surrendered near U.S. military bases. Despite wanting to keep their pets, many military families simply can’t afford the thousands of dollars it takes to transport pets to new duty stations.  

That $1 million breaks down like this:

1,808 animals at risk of surrender stayed with their families

1,405 grants to relocate pets for military families

1,473 dogs

324 cats

5 horses

5 bunnies

1 bird

We have helped relocate these pets to 20 different countries, across 6 continents

Thank you for your support of pets and military families through SPCA International. I am beyond proud that we have been able to make such a profound impact on the lives of so many animals at risk of surrender. I know it seems like a minor addition to a moving checklist, but military families are often relocated to far-flung locations with limited transportation, complicated laws and expensive requirements. We’ve seen bills of over $10,000 to transport just one or two pets from places like Guam, Japan and England. 

Through Operation Military Pets we are able to help with transportation costs associated with Permanent Change of Station orders. Grants are given based on the costs of transportation only, while military families are responsible for vaccines, health certificates, crates and any care required during quarantine. Families often drive their pets hundreds of miles to get them on their flight, and these families along with their furry or feathered friends will be forever grateful to you for your support. 

Chinese Tiger and Rhino Law

By Meredith Ayan, Executive Director

A recent announcement of a new Chinese policy quickly got my attention, and I think it is worth sharing. For the last 25 years, China had banned the use of tiger and rhino body parts. Alarmingly, they just reversed this policy.

The move has been denounced by the United Nations and the World Wildlife Fund. Though the new policy only allows tiger and rhino products from animals raised in captivity, this decision will support a legal market for products which may serve as a cover for an illegal market.

Both tigers and rhinos are threatened species, with wild populations continuing to dwindle. Experts worry that an increased demand for tiger and rhino parts in traditional Chinese medicine will only exacerbate poaching by increasing demand for these products. 

The law is still new and open to interpretation, and only time will tell what the actual effects of this policy change will be. Though SPCA International doesn’t work directly with wild animals, we are closely monitoring the issue and invite you to do the same.

Update: Shortly after this publication, China reversed course and temporarily reinstated the ban on tiger bones and Rhino horns. However, a temporary reinstatement is not sufficient. I hope a permanent ban will take hold soon.

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