Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time to solve our feral cat problem

Jay is a neutered Barn Cat. Not a
feral, but not exactly a pet either,
Jay is ideal for solving your rodent
problems and is hoping you’ll put
him to work. Contact YHS at
445-2666 for more information.
Yesterday was National Feral Cat Day. At the Yavapai Humane Society everyday is Feral Cat Day!  In a perfect world, all cats would have a loving home. Unfortunately, unaltered cats permitted to roam freely either become feral or produce feral offspring. Feral means wild, meaning these cats are unsuitable as pets. Rather than kill feral cats YHS promotes reducing their numbers through a process called TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). This process is managed through an YHS program called Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination). 

Why not just kill feral cats? Besides being inhumane, these felines serve a valuable community purpose. Feral cats keep rodents in check; and they do this without the use of pest control chemicals that are toxic to the environment and dangerous to pets, wildlife and children. By reducing rodent populations, feral cats also help reduce the incidence of many diseases carried by rodents, including the Plague, Leptospirosis and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome..

Feral cats are how a community controls rodent infestation and disease; TNR is how a community controls its feral cat population.

Leonardo Fibonacci, a preeminent mathematician during the Middle Ages, created a formula relating to agriculture productivity. Six centuries later, Louis Pasteur, used this model to accurately predict that 70 percent of a susceptible population has to be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic of a contagious disease. This discovery came to be known as Fibonacci's 70 percent Rule which is recognized today by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.

If we consider sterilization as a method of "vaccinating" feral cats against the "disease" of overpopulation then, according to the Fibonacci Rule, 70 percent of the susceptible population in the Quad-City region must be sterile to affect a population decrease. Once the 70 percent rate is achieved, the transmission odds (successful breeding encounters) of the remaining 30 percent will only be enough to replace normal attrition.

YHS has secured grants to help fund Operation FELIX, but to achieve 70 percent more help is needed. Municipal leaders can help by allocating monies to help fund Operation FELIX. YHS will match each municipality's allocation to this program with dedicated grant monies to help their respective neighborhoods. 

As a community we can choose to pay the modest costs of funding targeted spay/neuter programs designed to fix the problem or we can return to paying the ever increasing costs of catching and killing animals. YHS promotes proactive solutions and hopes you'll support this effort by sending a donation to "Operation FELIX" or by volunteering to help staff this program. For more information, visit or call 445-2666 to sign up for a TNR class.

If you currently manage or feed a feral cat colony, call the YHS Spay/Neuter Clinic to schedule an appointment to have your cats sterilized. Grant monies may allow you to have this done for free. Call 771-0547 for more information.

Ed Boks Ed Boksis the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Is the Yavapai Humane Society no-kill ethic here to stay? It's up to you

Yavapai Humane Society executive director Ed Boks (left) 
and Board President Gloria Hershman (far right) present 
the prestigious Yavapai Humane Society Founder’s Award 
to Kathy Coleman, John Tarro and Max Fogleman.
What a celebration! I'm talking about the Yavapai HumaneSociety's annual Reigning Cats & Dogs Gala this past Saturday. This year we celebrated YHS's 41st anniversary and the role the organization has played in transforming the central and western region of Yavapai County into the safest, pet-friendliest community in the nation! 

As we celebrated the many successes of the past four decades, a big question concerning YHS' future was put before the over 350 Gala celebrants. That question was this: Is no-kill here to stay? Was the success of the past three years an anomaly or a beachhead? 

The resounding response of the gala guests was "Yes, no-kill is here to stay" - and their commitment to the "no-kill" ethic was demonstrated by a record yield in donations dedicated to funding the Yavapai Humane Society's many life-saving programs. 

At this year's event, YHS Board President Gloria Hershman presented the prestigious Yavapai Humane Society Founder's Awards to former board members John Tarro, Kathy Coleman and Max Fogleman. This dynamic trio helped guide YHS through some of its most difficult years while laying the foundation for YHS's most recent successes. 

One of the livelier auction items was for naming rights for the new YHS Cat Care Center. The opening bid was $10,000 and, after a fun and exciting bidding war with Hooligan's proprietors Pat and Nancy O'Brien, Don and Shirl Pence emerged the winners with a $32,000 bid. 

In addition to winning the naming rights for the new Pence Cat Care Center, Don and Shirl served their traditional role as this year's Founders of the Feast by underwriting another year's gala. Without their generous support, and the support of so many others, YHS could never accomplish all that it does. 

The Pences were recognized along with Lou Silverstein and Peggy Stidworthy in the first-ever Founder's Award Presentation at last year's gala. The vision, leadership and generosity of all our founders laid a sure foundation for YHS and we are profoundly grateful to them all. 

Would you like to help make sure "no-kill" is here to stay? Please consider joining these visionaries in their support of the "no-kill ethic" through the YHS PAWS program. Together we can continue to make our community the safest in the nation for pets.

You can do this by donating just $10 a month to ending the killing of adoptable pets. What a difference that would make! With that kind of steady support, YHS could reliably continue to save animals' lives, fight cruelty, and rescue and protect lost, homeless, sick, abused and neglected animals in our community.

And it's easy to participate in the YHS PAWS (Planned Automatic Withdrawal Service) program. You'll be joining a growing number of people who are making our entire community a true humane society. By joining PAWS an automatic donation of your choice is safely sent to YHS each month. Donors can sign up using a Visa, MasterCard or Discover. You simply choose the amount that feels comfortable to you; and you can change or cancel your participation any time.

A monthly contribution of just $10 (or more) helps feed hungry homeless animals, provide life-saving medicine to ailing animals, and vaccinate and spay/neuter needy pets to help reduce pet disease and overpopulation. Where else can so little do so much? 

Visit to sign up to be part of the YHS PAWS solution and help make sure no-kill is here to stay! 

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What to do in a dog attack

What is the tool of choice when breaking up a serious dog fight? First, let's review the ineffective tools commonly used.

Contrary to popular opinion, pepper spray and Mace are seldom effective. In fact, these agents are known to actually provoke dogs into redirecting their aggression. Because these agents must be accurately directed at close range the person applying the agent is often the target of this redirection - and if the person is affected or overcome by the agent (which depends on which way the wind is blowing) the consequences to the person can be severe. 

Tasers are virtually useless against fur-covered animals; and tranquilizer darts must be placed accurately to be effective, which is difficult when a dog is in attack mode; and the tranquilizer takes several minutes to work during which time the animal can do significant damage.

What then is the best way to break up a dog fight without injuring the animals or putting yourself at unnecessary risk? The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) recommends fire-extinguishers. 

With a fire-extinguisher, an intervener does not have to closely approach the dogs or have an accurate aim to deter an attack. Fire-extinguishers don't quickly run out of "ammunition" or produce an erratic ricochet; and they are non-lethal. If the fire-extinguisher is exhausted while the dog attack continues the empty cylinder can be used as a shield or a bite stick. 

Fire-extinguisher contents tend to make animals short of breath without lasting harm; and most dogs retreat from the snake-like hiss of a discharging fire-extinguisher. 

Fire-extinguishers can be found in most every kitchen, near every fireplace, and in every car, bus, truck, taxi, and patrol car, and they are prominently located in every public building and place of business.

Should the unfortunate happen and you are bitten it's best to push against the biter instead of pulling away; this forces most dogs to open their mouths, and enables the victim to avoid the ripping injuries that result from pulling away from a dog's serrated teeth. However, this strategy may not be universally applicable to all dog bites. 

In fatal and disfiguring attacks, the first bite often disables the victim preventing them from pushing against the bite, or protecting themselves, or doing any of the other things conventionally advised. The only effective defense against this type of an attack is preventing the attack from occurring in the first place. 

When attacked by a dog it is important to understand dogs tend to attack whatever part of a person is closest to them, so putting an object, any object, between you and the dog will likely redirect the attack towards the object in your hand and away from you.

It's important to keep your balance. Fending off a dog attack by swinging an object, such as a baseball bat or a golf club, is dangerous; the dog may dodge the blow and take advantage while the person is off-balance to inflict serious injury. The correct way to use a bat or golf club is as a bite-stick held out to keep the dog at maximum distance from oneself. 

Most dog on dog and dog on person attacks can be prevented by properly training and socializing your pet. It is never too late to invest in your canine companion by teaching him "good citizenship" skills. 

Lastly, remember to keep your dog on a leash six feet or less in length in public places. Not only is this the law (yes, retractable dog leashes are illegal in public places), but a short leash gives you better control to either prevent or save your dog from an attack.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Government shutdown has negative impact on animals

Potter, a handsome Sharpei
mix, displays his affection 
with lean-ins and kisses. 
While outgoing with humans, 
he can be temperamental 
with other canines. He walks 
with strength on his leash 
and may require obedience 
training for the enjoyment 
of his companionship. 
Come meet Potter today 
or check out his video at 

under Adoptable Dogs.
As the budget stalemate in Washington led to a temporary government shutdown animal advocates are wondering how this unusual event will impact those who have no voice - our nation's animals.

Here is a brief outline describing how the following animal welfare-related duties are being affected during this shutdown:

Puppy Mills: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not performing all of its duties under the Animal Welfare Act. Specifically, it is not inspecting puppy mills or pet dealers. During this break in oversight, untold harm could be done to commercially bred animals simply because no one is empowered to monitor their safety. The puppy mill industry is notorious for egregious animal abuse and neglect; the mind reels at what these animals will suffer without any oversight. 

Horse Soring: Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Caustic chemicals and blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene are applied to the horse's limbs, causing extreme pain.

Another form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting a horse's hoof almost to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive part of his soles on a block or other raised object. This causes excruciating pressure and pain whenever the horse puts weight on the hoof.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act to combat the abusive practice of horse soring. APHIS oversees the inspection of at-risk show horses to ensure they have not been sored and assesses penalties for violations. Suspension of the APHIS program will allow unscrupulous trainers to take advantage of this lapse in oversight.

Animal Slaughter: The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) uphold the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act related to the treatment of animals prior to and during slaughter. This has been deemed a necessary function, so FSIS inspectors will continue to monitor food safety and humane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses during the shutdown.

Wild Horses: Federal agencies periodically round up and remove large numbers of free-roaming wild equines on public rangelands. This policy often results in tens of thousands of wild horses languishing in holding facilities. Roundups are suspended during the shutdown, but caretakers for the horses already confined will remain on the job.

Zoos/Circuses: Exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act; unfortunately, the welfare of these animals is suspended for the time being. 

Animals in Laboratories: The USDA enforces the AWA to ensure minimum standards of care for animals in laboratories. While employees are on the job maintaining the animals, there is no USDA watchdog ensuring that minimum standards of care are being met. This is another industry whose history is seriously tainted by egregious animal abuse and neglect. The temporary lack of oversight puts these animals again at great risk.

For more information on the Yavapai Humane Society's position on these and other animal welfare issues visit and click on Position Statements

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Business-savvy landlords allow pets

Guru is a STAR (Special Treatment and
Recovery) animal. He was hit by a car,
saved by Yavapai Humane Society,
and completely on the mend now.
Guru is a very sweet 8-year-old male
Chihuahua in need of someone to love.
If you would like to help other needy
STAR animals, please make a donation 
to the YHS STAR Program. 

The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is hosting its annual "Empty the Shelter Adoptathon" this month. During the month of July, adopters can pick their price on most dogs and all cats and kittens. With the largest selection of adoptable pets in Yavapai County, YHS is the pet adoption center of choice.

Sadly, one of the challenges potential adopters face comes from landlords who refuse pets despite hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. In fact, a survey conducted by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare found:

• Fifty percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets;

• Thirty-five percent of tenants without pets would own a pet if permitted;

• Tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months in rentals prohibiting pets;

• The vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing is lower (10 percent) than "no pets allowed" rentals (14 percent); and

• Twenty-five percent of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing are seeking pet-friendly rentals.

With such a sizable potential tenant pool it seems there should be enough pet-friendly housing to meet demand. According to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets (where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs) pet-friendly housing should always be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords.

Why then do so many landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by providing pet-friendly housing? With nearly 70 percent of American households having companion animals and over half of renters who do not have a pet wanting one, why are so few pet-friendly rental units available?

The report found that among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7 percent), followed by noise (52.9 percent), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2 percent) and insurance issues (41.2 percent). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9 percent).

Although 85 percent of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In most cases, landlords could simply subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords experience no substantive loss. There is little, if any, difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.

Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required slightly less than one hour per year of landlord time. This is less time than landlords spend for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spend addressing pet-related problems is offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of 8 hours per unit.

The study found problems arising from allowing pets to be minimal; and benefits outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets.

YHS receives many wonderful pets because of this unnecessary housing shortage. Imagine if all Yavapai County landlords permitted pets. That would create a demand far greater than the number of pets dying in our shelters, allowing our community to maintain its status among the safest communities in the United States for pets.

Unfortunately, too many landlords overlook the opportunity to increase revenue, tenant pools and market size by allowing pets. While the benefits to landlords are easily quantified in a profit/loss statement, the benefit to our community's homeless pets is incalculable. Landlords can make a profitable, life-saving choice by simply permitting pets.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It takes a villiage to sustain no-kill

Kill Rate = number of animals killed in 12
mos divided by human census grouped 
by 1,000.  For instance, YHS jurisdiction 
population is 154,482.  So 154 is divided 
by 134 animals killed in past 12 months
 = 0.8.  Above numbers provided by
ANIMAL PEOPLE 2012  Report. 
In July 2010, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) implemented a "no-kill" ethic. YHS applies this "ethic" by using the same criteria for deciding a homeless animal's fate that a loving pet owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them. 

The "no-kill" ethic embodies our commitment that for every animal who comes through YHS' doors there is a kind and loving person or family - and it is our mission to bring them together.

Each July, I report on our progress towards achieving "no-kill." There are three statistics animal shelters use to measure their success, or failure, in reducing pet euthanasia (or killing). These numbers help tell the whole story:

The Live Release Rate (LRR) refers to the number of animals who get out of a shelter alive. It includes adoptions, transfers to rescue organizations, and lost pets returned to owners. Some shelter experts claim a 90 percent LRR is the threshold to "no-kill." Since July 2010, YHS has maintained a 91 percent LRR (and a 95 percent LLR in 2012 and a 97 percent LLR in 2013 YTD).

The Euthanasia Rate reports the actual number of animals euthanized. In the first year implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS achieved a 63 percent reduction in killing, followed by a 64 percent reduction in year two, and a 40 percent reduction in year three; for an overall reduction of 92 percent over the past three years. This translates into four additional lives saved every day of the year.

The Per Capita Kill Rate refers to the number of animals killed per 1,000 residents. Prior to implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS was killing 17.25 animals per 1,000 residents; one of the worst kill rates in the state. However, in the 12 months ending June 30, the YHS kill rate was 0.8; the lowest in the nation! This rate is calculated by using the 2010 U.S. Census population estimate for central and western Yavapai County of 154,482 (131 animals killed / 154 = 0.8).

There are many ways everyone can help maintain our status as the safest community in the United States.

1. Spay/neuter your pets: Pets should be spay/neutered before sexual maturity. Call the YHS Spay/Neuter Clinic (771-0547) to make an appointment today!

2. Microchip your pets: YHS has one of the highest "Return to Owner" rates in the nation (50 percent). When your pet comes to YHS with an up-to-date microchip, he has a guaranteed ticket home. For a limited time, microchips can be purchased for just $15 at the YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic any Friday without an appointment (2989 Centerpointe East, Prescott). For an additional $9.95, you can register your pet for life!

3. Support YHS by becoming a PAWS (Planned Automatic Withdrawal Service) donor (visit for information on how to sign up). By joining PAWS, an automatic monthly donation of your choice comes to YHS without the hassle of sending in a check. Each month our secure system automatically processes your donation. You choose an amount that feels comfortable and you can change or cancel your participation at any time.

4. Include YHS in your planned giving: Attend a free YHS Planned Giving Seminar on Aug. 1 at the Prescott Lakes Country Club at 7:30 a.m. A complimentary deluxe breakfast will be provided. The seminar is entitled "Reduce Taxes and Save Lives: Tax Reduction and Planned Giving Strategies presented by Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA. Please RSVP by calling 445-2666 ext. 20. I look forward to seeing you there!

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's the most dangerous week of the year for pets

Zues, a two-year old American
Staffordshire terrier lost during
the Doce Fire had a microchip that
that allowed him to be returned
to his frantic owner. Please get
your pets’  microchipped before
the 4th of July  holiday; it is a
 gift of life to your pet!
The next 10 days is the most fun and raucous time in Prescott. The festivities culminate around the 4th of July with outdoor celebrations, picnics, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. Before you pack up to the lake or the outdoor arena, stadium or even your own front yard to enjoy the pyrotechnic delights of the holiday, be aware of your pets' needs and fears.
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) experiences a significant increase in the number of lost (and injured) pets brought to our Lost & Found Pet Center after every July 4 holiday.

"The days following the 4th of July are the busiest days of the year at YHS with people turning in lost pets or looking for lost animals," said Margo Stucker, manager of the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center, located at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road off Prescott Lakes Parkway in Prescott.

Even pets who are normally calm and obedient can show unpredictable behavior when frightened. Dogs and cats can become frightened or confused by the excitement and loud noises of the holiday. YHS has rescued terrified pets who have chewed through their tethers, jumped through plate glass windows or over fences, and escaped "secure" enclosures.

Dogs attempting to flee the frightening, and even painful noises of the fireworks may lose their sense of direction and run long distances risking injury or death as they dart in and out of traffic. This is one of the most dangerous times of year for your pets.

Up close, fireworks can burn or injure your pets, but even if they are far away, they still pose a unique danger to your companion animals.

To minimize the danger to your pets take these few simple steps before you set out to celebrate this Fourth of July:

• Keep pets indoors in an enclosed area that they are familiar with to minimize fear. If possible, turn on a radio to mask the noise of the fireworks or other celebratory noises.

• If your pet is excitable, consult with your veterinarian ahead of time to arrange administration of a proper calming drug.

• If you have to be away for an extended time, board your pets with family or friends you trust and can assure you that the pet will be kept confined and cared for.

• Always be sure your pet has a current microchip. A microchip is the best identification for a pet because it is always with him and it makes it easier for YHS to find you should the unthinkable happens and your pet manages to escape.

• Even if you think your pet is ok with fireworks and noise, do not let him out when fireworks are being lit and set off. The pet may run at them and sustain serious burns, or bolt and run.

If your pet happens to escape during the holiday festivities, be diligent in visiting the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center every day, and posting "Lost Dog" or "Lost Cat" signs and canvassing surrounding neighborhoods. Place a yard sign in front of your house with a picture of your pet and your phone number. People who find lost pets will often walk or drive around the area attempting to find the owner. Remember, fright can drive an animal to new and unfamiliar grounds, many miles from your home. So exhaust all avenues. This 4th of July holiday can be the best ever if you take these precautions to keep your pets safe and happy while you enjoy the festivities without having to worry about the family pet.

Life-saving microchips can be purchased without an appointment at the YHS Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic located at 2989 Centerpointe East on any Friday (call 771-0547 for more information) or at the YHS Lost & Found any Monday or Wednesday through Friday (call 515-2379 for more information). Please protect your pets this 4th of July.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.