Animal Lovers Rally to Save San Diego’s “Jetty Cats”

jetty1

Many San Diegans are familiar with our famous “Original Dog Beach” (one of the first dog-friendly beaches in the U.S.), popular with locals and tourists alike. But did you know that not far from Dog Beach is a Mission Bay jetty that is home to the “Jetty Cats”—a colony of stray and abandoned cats who have made their home among the jetty rocks?

jetty2

The Jetty Cats are not your average feral cat colony. Sadly, many of them are former pets left there by owners who no longer want them. Others are strays who have joined the group. They are quite friendly and approachable, and many locals enjoy visiting them and feeding them. They are also cared for by local animal welfare advocates who make sure they are spayed and neutered.

jetty4

The Jetty Cats are under threat. The City of San Diego and the USDA’s Wildlife Services Division have plans underway to trap and euthanize these much-loved cats. The stated reason is to protect endangered bird species in the area, but concerned animal lovers fear that this is an inappropriate reaction to what is generally regarded as a very well-managed cat colony.

jetty3

You can learn more about this issue and sign a petition showing your support for the Jetty Cats HERE. Interested in learning more about this unique community of cats? Check out THIS VIDEO from our local ABC New station.

 

What’s the Impact of “Corporatization” on Our Pets’ Veterinary Care?

corp2

Is the solo veterinary practice becoming a thing of the past? Like health care for humans, veterinary care for pets is dramatically changing with the growth of large corporate pet hospitals like Banfield and VCA. Many Americans are choosing to bypass the corner pet store and shop for pet supplies at big box retailers…so it’s not such a surprise to see a vet practice, dog training area, and groomer when you enter these stores. But are we sacrificing quality for convenience?

A recent in-depth article on Bloomberg.com takes a long hard look at the corporatization of veterinary care. It’s a must-read for any concerned pet owner. The article profiles a veterinarian named John Robb who has worked in his own practice, as well as for Banfield and VCA, over the course of his career. He fears that a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to pet care may be doing more harm than good. What’s the biggest bone of contention for Robb and many other critics of the corporate approach? The over-vaccination of pets because vaccines are such a significant source of income.

corp1

The debate about whether or not we are over-vaccinating our pets, to the detriment of their health, is very complicated. But there is a growing sentiment among experts that “wellness plans” which include multiple, repeated vaccines are unnecessary and maybe even dangerous, given hazards like bad reactions to shots and even injection-site cancers. These risks have many people asking “How much is too much?”

Besides vaccines, another source of profit is diagnostic testing. Did you know that VCA owns Antech Diagnostics, a laboratory that performs testing for 50% of the nation’s veterinary hospitals? This translates to 41% of VCA’s operating profit. While bloodwork and other diagnostic testing can certainly save lives, some critics are concerned that appropriate care can take a backseat to easy profits.

According to the article, corporations now own between 15-20% of all veterinary practices in the U.S., whether they build their own or purchase existing practices from independent veterinarians. Many states actually have laws prohibiting the corporate ownership of veterinary practices, but companies can work around them using complicated management structures.

corp3

The bottom line for pet owners? We should approach veterinary care the same way we approach our own medical care. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a veterinary practice you feel comfortable with, and it’s OK to ask questions and get second opinions about your pet’s care, the same as you would for your own. Whether you choose a small vet practice or a large one, being a well-informed advocate for your pet’s health is the best thing you can do.

 

Caring for Our Pets When Economic Times are Hard

poverty4

A recent report from San Diego’s public television station KPBS highlighted some sobering statistics about how many people in our county, as well as nationwide, are struggling financially. The poverty rate here in San Diego County is higher today than it was during the great recession, rising from 12.3% to 14.5%–with 450,000 people currently living below the federal poverty line ($12,082 per individual annually). U.S. census data shows that 13.5% of Americans live below the poverty threshold nationwide.

poverty3

FACE provides financial assistance to qualified families to help them pay for all or part of their pets’ emergency and critical care veterinary services. According to our 2016 statistics, 50% of our grantees had an annual income of $26,000 or less. Here in San Diego County, where the cost of living is quite high, $26,000 is less than the living wage for one person.

poverty5

What does all this mean for pet owners facing economic hard times? While the basic cost of pet ownership ranges from around $350-$550 per year (with roughly $1,000 of expenses during the first year of ownership), a veterinary emergency could lead to thousands of dollars of unexpected expenses. What happens when a pet owner simply can’t afford treatment? Sadly, economic euthanasia is often the only alternative. While it’s hard to find official statistics on economic euthanasia rates, animal welfare and veterinary experts estimate that between 10% and 12% of all pet euthanasia occurs for economic reasons.

poverty6

The pets of low income families face many hardships, even if they never experience a veterinary emergency. Low income pet owners in rural areas can find themselves miles away from the nearest pet store or veterinarian. In urban areas with high poverty rates, veterinary services are also scarce, and pet owners often face transportation issues.

poverty1

Helping pets in low income households is truly a community effort. Besides non-profits that provide financial assistance for veterinary care, like FACE, there are other ways communities have shown compassion for pets in need. Many veterinary schools offer free clinics, animal welfare organizations bring mobile, low-cost spay/neuter services to underserved areas, food pantries are expanding to include pet food and supplies, and specialized programs exist for the pets of veterans, the homeless, and the elderly.

poverty2

Pets provide love, comfort, companionship, and even health benefits to their owners, regardless of income. That’s why it’s so important to do all we can to ensure that all pets remain healthy and happy members of their families. Here is a comprehensive list of organizations providing financial assistance to pet owners in the U.S.

 

Thank You ‘Purr and Roar’

kitchen2

Our friend Tori from the awesome blog Purr and Roar was kind enough to ask your humble FACE blogger to participate in her “Let’s Talk About Your Cat!” series.  I had the opportunity to share some pictures and stories about my two Norwegian Forest Cats (and my work with the FACE Foundation, too).

I’ve found that while some people’s eyes light up when they hear I have “Wegies” most just say “a WHAT cat?” and look confused.  Yes, they really are a natural breed from the forests of Norway!

If you’re not familiar with Purr and Roar, please check out this incredibly informative blog, which covers all things feline, from wild cat conservation issues to the “house lion” on your couch!

Thank you Tori!

New Study Finds BPA in Canned Dog Food May Harm Pets

food1

In recent years, we’ve become much more aware of the toxins in our everyday environment. One that has gotten a lot of attention is Bisphenol A, aka BPA, a chemical found in common items like plastic water bottles, thermal paper, and can linings. BPA is described as an endocrine disruptor and it also mimics estrogen. It’s been linked to a wide range of health issues, including various reproductive-related problems and cancer.

food3

A recent study suggests that the canned food our pets eat may contain unsafe levels of BPA as well. Researchers conducted a study of 14 dogs who regularly ate bagged dog food. They were then fed canned food (even a so-called “BPA-free” brand) and their blood was tested. The results showed that, even after just 2 weeks on the canned food diet, their BPA levels almost tripled. The researchers were able to link the BPA to changes in the dogs’ metabolisms and in microbes in their digestive systems.

food2

Besides the health issues that our pets themselves might be experiencing, the researchers note that animals are also very good indicators of the health risks humans face from the various environmental contaminants that we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Check out the full story, including a link to the study, on the Time magazine website.