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.