Saving America’s Vets and America’s Pets

American Humane’s Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs has launched a new initiative to harness the healing powers of the human-animal bond to help our brave veterans and more of America’s beautiful, adoptable animals. Every day, 20 veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war take their own lives, and 670,000 dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters each year. Vast anecdotal evidence and a growing body of scientific research show that specialized PTS and TBI service dogs can offer life-changing—and often lifesaving—support to affected veterans. However, there are obstacles standing in the way for veterans in need of service dogs: Waiting lists are long and the training process is time-consuming and expensive, and can cost $30,000 per dog.

To help begin turning the tide of veteran suicide and save the lives of more adoptable animals facing an uncertain future, American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, announced the first graduating class of service dogs and retired warriors in its new national “Shelter to Service” program. The initiative rescues shelter dogs and specially trains them to become lifesaving service animals for military veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). American Humane’s new canine training center provides specialized PTS and TBI service dogs to veterans in need, at no cost to the recipient.

American Humane introduced the first class of service dog graduates at the Hamptons, Long Island home of philanthropists Jewel and Robert Morris amid a sea of some 200 humanitarian and celebrity advocates for America’s veterans and animals, including country star and longtime supporter of the military Naomi Judd, actress and author Beth Stern, actor Lou Wegner, former PepsiCo Restaurants International CEO Tim Lane, New York City socialite Jean Shafiroff, and many others.

Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said: “As an organization that has worked for more than a century to help both these groups, American Humane was compelled to provide help and healing, and created a nationwide model based on our development of the country’s first national training standards to help ensure veterans an adequate quantity as well as quality of lifesaving service dogs.” Veterans now face wait times of a dangerously unacceptable 18- to 24-months.

“With 20 veterans committing suicide each day and PTSD cases continuing to increase at alarming rates in the veterans community, it is unconscionable that we have not been taking advantage of every possible mechanism to reverse this horrific tragedy,” said internationally renowned philanthropist and American Humane board member Lois Pope. “It is equally tragic that hundreds of thousands of dogs are euthanized in shelters each year. Given that it is well-known that dogs have an indelible connection with humans and have served as therapy and service companions for people with physical and emotional afflictions for so many years, the Shelter to Service initiative is a perfect solution to both problems. That is why I’m pleased that through the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, American Humane has pioneered and is taking the national lead on partnering veterans with shelter canines in order to help them heal from the invisible wounds of war.”

American Humane began working with the U.S. military more than 100 years ago when they deployed to the battlefields of World War I Europe to rescue more than 68,000 wounded war horses every month. Following World War II they advanced the field of animal-assisted therapy to help returning veterans cope with the invisible wounds of war, and aided children of military families during their parents’ deployments. Recently, they helped change the law to make sure we bring our military hero dogs home to U.S. soil when their service to our country is finished. They also work to reunite these four-footed warriors with their former handlers, and provide them with free specialized healthcare so they can enjoy the happy and healthy retirement they deserve. This newest initiative seeks to save the lives of more veterans, as well as those of abandoned, adoptable animals. Among the newly formed veterans and service dog teams in the first graduating class are:

• John and Oliver. John was living in the Shanksville, Pennsylvania area when Flight 93 crashed there during the terror attacks on September 11. One of the first responders to the crash site, John enlisted in the Marines and deployed to Iraq, where he survived 21 IED explosions and fought in Operation Phantom Fury, considered the fiercest fight U.S. troops have faced since the Vietnam War. American Humane paired John with Oliver, a one-year-old male mixed breed who was surrendered by his owner to a shelter in Colorado. “I have friends who have benefited from a service dog, so I’m hopeful that Oliver will help me cope and adjust as well,” said John. “My dog will give me some company, instead of sitting in my house alone.”

• Cassandra and Louie. Cassandra is a retired Army specialist who served with U.S. troops overseas in Kuwait for the Gulf War’s Operation Desert Shield. Louie is a one-and-a-half-year-old male Mountain Cur/Border Collie mix with beautiful tiger striping. He was picked up as a stray by animal control in Oklahoma, and was transferred to a shelter there. “When I think of receiving my service dog, the first thing that comes to mind is freedom,” said Cassandra. “Just that one word.”

• Chris and Lex. Chris is an Army veteran who was part of the U.S. invasion of Iraq from the very beginning in 2003. He proudly calls military service “the family business.” American Humane is pairing him with Lex, a one-and-a-half-year-old male Labradoodle who was selected from an animal shelter located within a correctional institute in Louisiana where he was initially trained and socialized by inmates. “Getting my service dog has been a life changer,” said Chris. “I’ve gone in just a few days from being depressed to having a better outlook. It’s not an instant fix, but I’m already more positive these last few days. My dog gives me something positive to focus on instead of wallowing in my own pity.” And Chris’ 9-year-old daughter said her greatest hope is that the gift of this dog will “help get me my Dad back.”

Program Supported by Generous Friends and Sponsors

American Humane’s Shelter to Service program has been made possible thanks to a wide range of committed supporters and generous sponsors, including, among many others, The Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Zoetis, Hallmark Channel, NCR Foundation, Banfield Foundation, Adtalem Foundation, Kriser’s Natural Pet, Matt Martin Foundation, Door Automation Corp., Kyrus Charities, Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, The Philly Pack, Monster Energy, Marta Heflin Foundation, Red River Charitable Foundation, Nora Roberts Family Foundation, All About Dogs, LLC, and Merck Animal Health. American Humane is grateful to all of them. Without their support, this program would not be possible.

“I am so pleased to be supporting their newest effort to save America’s vets and America’s pets by pairing our retired warriors with trained service dogs who are themselves rescues from shelters,” said country singer, longtime military supporter, and American Humane board member Naomi Judd. “In this way, we can save lives on both ends of one healing leash.”

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Ticked Off About Tick Season? Tips to Protect Your Pet

Summer has arrived, which means outdoor fun with your favorite four-legged friend—hikes in the woods, walks on the beach, and runs in the park. But unfortunately for humans and pets alike, spending an abundance of time outdoors during the summer can have a pesky downside: tick bites.

Ticks often hang onto blades of grass waiting for something, or someone, to brush by them that they can grab onto, which makes Fido and his wagging tail an appealing victim for these creatures. Most common in wooded or grassy areas, ticks can transmit microbes that cause diseases, including Lyme disease and babesiosis. While “tick season” actually comprises most of the calendar year, summer months tend to see an uptick in bites as so many of us are outdoors.

To protect your pet this summer—and all year—from harmful tick bites, American Humane would like to share a few safety tips:

Lessen Your Pets’ Exposure to Ticks:
Ticks can inhabit all types of environments, but are particularly at home in tall grasses and brush. If possible, mow and rake your yard regularly to create a safer environment for your pet to play in.

Check Your Pet for Signs of Ticks:
Check your pet for ticks daily, especially if he or she has been playing outside or in a wooded or grassy area. Areas to check include the insides of the ears, between the toes, on the paws, under tails, on stomachs, and under collars. Run your hands along your pet’s body, feeling for small bumps and looking for dark spots. Ticks can be black, brown, or tan, and can range in size.

Know How to Safely Remove a Tick from Your Pet:
Removing a tick from your pets can be an intimidating task, but it’s important to act quickly if you find evidence of a tick on them, as diseases can be transmitted from the creatures within a few short hours. There are two common methods of removing a tick: using tweezers or using a tick remover.

To use tweezers, grab the tick with clean tweezers as close to your pets’ skin as possible without pinching them. Pull the tick out slowly and steadily, ensuring that all parts of the tick are removed.
To use a tick remover, press the remover against your pets’ skin in an area close to the tick. Slowly slide the hook of the remover under the tick, and pull it free.

After removing a tick from your pet, always clean the wound with an antiseptic and clean the tool used (tweezers or tick remover) with isopropyl alcohol.

Know the Symptoms:
A single bite from a disease-carrying tick can transmit Lyme disease to your unsuspecting pup. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, loss of appetite, reduced energy, and swelling of joints. If your pet displays any of these signs, please seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

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Tons of Love (4,551 Pounds to Be Exact) Delivered to Shelter

American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food have delivered 4,551 pounds of nutritious food and love to the animals served by the Fulton County Humane Society in Wauseon. The donation is part of an ambitious new national campaign called “Fill-a-Bowl…Feed-a-Soul™” to help care for shelter pets waiting for their forever homes.

Together, American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul have distributed more than half a million meals of premium, all-natural Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food to U.S. shelters, which house and care for millions of animals each year, and the organizations are striving to reach a goal of one million meals. The campaign’s first shipment of 80,000 pounds of food was sent to help the animal victims in flood-devastated Louisiana, where American Humane set up rescue operations, and an estimated 75 percent of all homes were destroyed, leaving lost, frightened and hungry animals wandering among the wreckage. American Humane now works with Chicken Soup for the Soul to identify shelters where a donation of food can do the most good.

“The Fulton County Humane Society is very grateful to American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food for this generous donation,” said Steve Wanner, executive director of the Fulton County Humane Society. “The donated pet food will help many animals throughout our community.”

“This campaign helps animals when they need help most,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “On behalf of all the beloved pets across the country, a big thank-you to our friends at Chicken Soup for the Soul!”

The “Fill-a-Bowl…Feed-a-Soul” campaign is the latest collaboration between American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul, which have worked on several projects together, including the publication of Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat earlier this year, with forewords authored by Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane.

Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher and editor-in-chief Amy Newmark said, “We’re pleased that we can provide assistance to animals in need and we are glad to be working with American Humane on this vital campaign.”

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Villari Brothers Earns Coveted American Humane Certified Seal

More and more consumers are rightly demanding that their foods be raised in line with their values – and more and more farmers, ranchers and producers are listening. The latest is Villari Brothers, which has earned certification for the proper treatment of pigs from American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world.

In order to qualify as an American Humane Certified™ processor, Villari Brothers’ supplier had to meet the program’s rigorous standards, which include meeting some 200 science-based standards covering everything from adequate space to proper temperature, air quality and much more. In addition, they voluntarily agreed to undergo rigorous, yearly audits by professional auditors to ensure the standards are being implemented.

“By becoming an American Humane Certified processor, Villari Brothers helps assure their customers that the food on their plates was raised humanely under the science- and evidence-based protections established by American Humane,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “We applaud them for their extraordinary commitment to good animal welfare.”

“Villari Brothers is proud to partner with American Humane and uphold our commitment to raising hogs in a responsible and ethical manner,” said Joe Villari, president and CEO of Villari Brothers. “Humane treatment of animals is an industrywide commitment, and at Villari Brothers we strive for continual improvement and the overall welfare of animals, at all stages of production. Excellent pork comes from excellent producers that raise pigs right! We are excited about our new American Humane Certified – Raised without Antibiotics products.”

The American Humane Certified program is the nation’s first and largest farm animal welfare certification and audit program, developed by the organization to advance protections for farm animals and ensure they are raised and handled humanely. Independent, third-party audits cover more than 200 species-specific criteria which are rooted in the internationally accepted Five Freedoms of animal welfare. These science-based standards are set and regularly reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee of the nation’s top animal experts, animal behaviorists, veterinarians and animal advocates, including luminaries such as farm animal welfare pioneer Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Tom Parsons.

For a full list of American Humane Certified producers and more information about the program and other American Humane initiatives, visit http://www.AmericanHumane.org.

For more information about Villari Brothers products, please visit http://www.Villarifood.com.

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Pets and Fireworks Don’t Mix!

Independence Day may be fun for us, but for pets it can be frightening and even dangerous. July 5th is the busiest day of the year at animal shelters as companion animals that fled in fright the night before are found miles from their homes, disoriented and exhausted. Anxious families often find themselves searching the streets and shelters looking for a treasured family member whose fear drove him to jump a high fence or break her leash or chain.

If your pet is upset by thunder, a door slamming or other loud noises, Fourth of July fireworks will be utterly terrifying, so take these precautions:

• Your pets won’t enjoy the fireworks display, so leave them at home! Keep them inside, shielded from loud noises. Keep windows closed and draw the shades to minimize the sound and flashes of light.

• If loud noises upset your pets, do not leave them alone while you’re out celebrating; make sure someone can stay with them. If you’re home, act calm and give them reassuring pets and hugs…animals look to you to see how you’re reacting.

• If you think your pets should be tranquilized, consult your veterinarian well in advance.

• Contact an animal behaviorist to work with your pets on their fears. With some positive reinforcement and behavior modification training, by next Independence Day, you all may be worry-free!

• Be sure that all ID tags are properly affixed to your pet’s collar and that they have your current contact information, including cell number(s).

• Update your microchip registrations and pet license information to ensure they’re current.

“With a little care and preparation, the Fourth of July can be fun for people and safe for pets,” says Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “Let’s keep our best friends quiet and calm so we can continue to enjoy them come July 5.”

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Woodland Park Zoo Earns Humane Certification

American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization and the world’s largest certifier of animal welfare and well-being, announced that Woodland Park Zoo achieved certification by the American Humane Conservation program, becoming only the tenth Humane Certified™ institution in the United States.

The American Humane Conservation program is the first-ever certification program singularly dedicated to helping ensure the well-being and humane treatment of animals living in zoos and aquariums across the world. The program enforces comprehensive, evidence-based welfare standards developed by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee comprised of world-renowned leaders in the fields of animal science, animal behavior, animal ethics, and conservation.

“We are thrilled to announce the certification under American Humane Conservation of Woodland Park Zoo, a world-class institution dedicated to the responsible, humane treatment of the remarkable animals in its care,” said American Humane President and CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert. “Woodland Park Zoo’s commitment to meeting the highest standards of humane, verifiable, and transparent animal care is a distinction of which we should all be proud.”

“Strengthening humanity’s bonds with other species and caring for our planet start with the best care for our zoo’s animals. Animal wellness is not only our responsibility—it is our passion,” said Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Alejandro Grajal, PhD. “We are honored to achieve this seal of approval because we share American Humane’s unwavering commitment to animal welfare as our highest priority.”

The American Humane Conservation program’s rigorous criteria help exhaustively verify the many dimensions of animal wellbeing, with areas of assessment including: excellent health and housing; positive social interactions within groups of animals, as well as between animals and handlers; safe and stimulating environments, enriched and with concern for factors such as appropriate lighting, sound levels, air quality, and thermoregulation; and evidence of thorough preparation and protocols established to prevent and manage medical or operational emergencies.

For added rigor, Woodland Park Zoo’s compliance with the American Humane Conservation standards was verified through an exhaustive audit.

You can read more about the American Humane Conservation program here: http://humaneconservation.org/.

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Three Tons of Love Delivered: Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food & American Humane Deliver 6,457 Pounds of Love to Ohio Shelter

Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food and American Humane, the country’s first national humane organization, delivered 6,457 pounds of nutritious food and love to the animals served by the Fort Defiance Humane Society in Defiance, Ohio. The donation is part of an ambitious new national campaign called “Fill-a-Bowl…Feed-a-Soul™” to help care for shelter pets waiting for their forever homes.

Together, Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food and American Humane have distributed more than half a million meals of premium, all-natural Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Food to U.S. shelters, which house and care for millions of animals each year, and the organizations are striving to reach a goal of one million meals. The campaign’s first shipment of 80,000 pounds of food was sent to help the animal victims in flood-devastated Louisiana, where American Humane set up rescue operations, and an estimated 75 percent of all homes were destroyed, leaving lost, frightened and hungry animals wandering among the wreckage. American Humane now works with Chicken Soup for the Soul to identify shelters where a donation of food can do the most good.

“The Fort Defiance Humane Society very much appreciates this generous donation and we thank American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul,” said Josh O’Hara, director of the Fort Defiance Humane Society. “This food will help many animals throughout our community.”

“This campaign helps animals when they need help most,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane. “On behalf of all the beloved pets across the country, a big thank-you to our friends at Chicken Soup for the Soul!”

The “Fill-a-Bowl…Feed-a-Soul” campaign is the latest collaboration between American Humane and Chicken Soup for the Soul, which have worked on several projects together, including the publication of Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Cat earlier this year, with forewords authored by Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane.

Chicken Soup for the Soul’s publisher and editor-in-chief Amy Newmark said, “We’re pleased that we can provide assistance to animals in need and we are glad to be working with American Humane on this vital campaign.”

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