Thursday, January 14, 2010

Animals in Haiti

One of our areas of focus at the Mohawk and Hudson River Humane Society is to educate people about the needs of animals in a disaster. We distribute materials about how to prepare for disaster with your pets in mind and we are active in both the Rensselaer and Albany County Animal Response Teams. Those teams are comprised of various people who have been trained to respond to disasters and assist, rescue and house pets for the duration of the event.

But what happens when the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere experiences a major earthquake just a year after being wracked by hurricanes? Haiti is a country where good people struggle under normal circumstances to take care of themselves and some reach out to help animals in need. There are not animal shelters or veterinary schools in Haiti so they have little infrastructure to help animals. Currently there are unknown thousands of people who have been left homeless, injured or dead because of this tragic event. When people are affected by disaster, it is inevitable that there will be animals in need as well.

If you are concerned about the animals of Haiti, you can help. The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has been active in the region for many years and they need help.
You can see their website here which includes updates on events in Haiti...

Thank you for your help and concern.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stephen Hunek

I was very sad to learn this week that artist Stephen Huneck passed away. If you are not familiar with Mr. Huneck's work, it can be seen on the website for his dog mountain studio

I suppose his style would be classified as folk art, but I am not an expert on art or an art critic. I just know that Mr. Huneck understood the connection that we have to animals. Every piece is a simple expression of feelings like 'devotion' (the title of the piece on the coffee mug I use every day). Mr. Huneck's art is whimsical and at the same time touches deeply held feelings we have for our pets. He seemed to constantly be amused by watching his dog interact with the world and in a way that few other artists have been able to, he shared his observations and love for animals in his work.

Two years ago, Mr Huneck generously donated one of his pieces to our Art Saves Animals event. That piece (pictured here) raised over$2,000 at auction. He also allowed us to use the image in all of the promotional materials for the event, bringing more people than ever to support the Society. The piece he chose to donate provides a simple and true expression of our relationship to animals; love them and you will receive their unconditional love.

He was a caring and generous person who helped us all express our love for animals and reached out to help animals in need.

He will be missed.

Friday, January 8, 2010

...But Cats are America's #1 Pet

A recent associated poll found that respondents has a strong preference for cats over dogs.

The poll found:

  • 3 out of 4 adults (74%) said they like dogs a lot
  • 2 out of 5 respondents (41%) said they like cats a lot
  • 4 percent of adults said they dislike dogs "a little" or "a lot"
  • more than 1-in-4 (26%) said they dislike cats "a little" or "a lot."

Of all the groups that answered, married men were the most likely to say they dislike cats.

Why such a stark difference between our top two most loved family pets? Other recent studies show that cats are actually the most popular pet in the country. While there are more dog owning households, it is more likely that a household with cats will have multiple cats.

Many people who have never lived with cats, or had a close relationship with them may believe that cats are aloof and don't desire or require human attention. My cats would beg to differ. While cats interact differently than dogs, they desire human companionship and love as much as any other companion animal and depend on humans for care.

The difference in society's perceptions of cats is reflected in our animal shelter. Over 65% of the animals brought into the Humane Society are cats and our local experience reflects a national trend. Even cat lovers seem to perceive their pets differently than dogs. Cats visit the veterinarians office about half as much as dogs resulting in cats missing out on their annual preventative health screenings. Surprisingly, while cat ownership has been rising over the past several years, the number of cats visiting veterinary offices has declined.

Don't loose hope cat lovers, there are many out there just like you. Animal Shelters and other groups have recognized the feline's image problem and have come together to work on it. Out of this effort the CATalyst council was created. Their website can be found at

The goal of this group is to educate the public about the true nature of cats, their need for human companionship and care, and the wonderful companions they can be. At the Humane Society, we have promoted the importance of cats in our lives with our annual Feline Fest. Every year we celebrate the importance of cats in our lives and try to find new homes for homeless cats.

What is your experience with cats and how do you feel about the poll?