Wednesday, March 31, 2010

They're still going strong

I keep trying to take good pictures of the three neutered, vaccinated feral cats who are now living well in a small network of backyards in our neighborhood, getting their food and water from our feeding station.  The problem is that whenever I open the door and try to step onto our back deck to take a picture, the cats run off and either disappear behind a fence or hide under the leaves of an evergreen tree.  It's amazing to me that after all this time (it must be nearly a year now), they don't understand that I would never harm them.  Don't they recognize the person who has been venturing out in all kinds of weather to make sure their food is set out every morning and their water is clean?  Not even the little one who has taken up permanent residence, apparently, in the small insulated house supplied by The Cat Connection, will let me near her.  The other day I saw her snoozing in the doorway of the little house, waking now and then to look out and watch the rain.

Still, I'm relegated to standing inside my kitchen and taking photos with a zoom lens through the kitchen window.  It's torture!  How I'd love to be able to go outside and give them each a big hug.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beautiful photo portraits -- of shelter animals to benefit a municipal shelter in Pittsfield, MA

The Sonsini Shelter in Pittsfield, MA, is a "no-kill" shelter that takes in many of the community's strays, or animals being given up by their guardians, and works hard to find them good homes.  One of the board members has a husband who is a professional photographer, and he takes gorgeous photos of the shelter animals and sells them in various formats online to help raise money for the shelter.  Postcards can be purchased for as little as 99 cents each.

Check out these beautiful photos at this link, and if you live in the Berkshires, consider taking home one of the shelter's animals -- they are full of personality, and all need good homes.  My brother is a volunteer at the shelter, and I know for a fact that sometimes the animals are there for a year or longer before they find their "forever" homes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Our site is down temporarily

Hello friends!

We're having some server trouble and www.OurPlacetoPaws.com is temporarily down.  We'll let you know when everything's fixed!

Monday, March 15, 2010

They made it through the winter!

It's pouring rain in the Boston area as I write this; apparently we're in the middle of another nor'easter.  When the weather is bad I always think of the three feral cats we feed in our yard, the ones we made sure were "fixed" and vaccinated after adopting out their kittens with the help of The Cat Connection.


Although the days when the rain comes down hard like this make me worry, I admit I'm thrilled our ferals made it through the winter.  One of them, a pretty white girl named "Flora" by the organization (pictured above in the larger cat house), has taken up residence in a small insulated house supplied to us by the group.  Her little head pokes out of the door of the house in the early mornings, and I can't describe how gratifying it is to know she has a warm, safe place to retreat to on cold or rainy days. 

The other female, "Flicka,"doesn't come as often or live in the yard, but I've seen her often enough to know she's OK.

Flora adores "Franklin," the big gray and white tom cat who started all of this.  Franklin was a scraggly, angry tom when we first noticed him outside, and once he even launched himself in anger about five feet up to a window where one of our indoor cats was sitting.  Now, neutered and well-fed, Franklin seems almost gentle.  Flora follows him around and looks for him when he isn't in the yard.  When he shows up she follows him to the food and swats at him gently from the roof of the feeding station.  He tolerates her, sometimes giving her a paw in return.  Once I even saw them wrestling playfully.  Both have filled out, and their fur is thick and healthy-looking.

The problem is I've become so attached to our "outdoor cats" that I worry if I go away even for a weekend.  We have a neighbor who usually takes care of them, but he'll be away a lot this summer.  Even though my husband is going away to study for three months, I will probably stay behind, at least part-time when I can't find help to ensure the cats get the food and water they've become accustomed to.  Seeing them transformed from frightened, hungry animals into happy, content, healthy cats, there is no way I could leave them without knowing they will be cared for.  This whole experience has been great for the neighborhood, which is no longer over-run with feral kittens, great for the kittens and cats who were rescued, tamed and ended up in good homes, and even great for these cats who were too feral to be tamed, but who now live easier lives.

What will happen if we move away?  I can't even think about it! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tribbs was in the Top 500!

Tribbs landed in the Top 500 of the Spay Day Pet Photo contest benefiting spay and neuter programs around the country.  The contest was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.  Tribbs thanks you for your votes :-).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why It's Hard to Finish the Laundry at Our House

Message from USDA regarding Handling of Calves at a Vermont Facility

Our Place to Paws just received this letter and wanted to share it with our readers.  On a personal note -- I'm a vegetarian, and the one thing I ask of friends who are not vegetarians is that they consider not eating veal or lamb. 

- Faye


Dear Sir or Madam:
 
Thank you for your correspondence to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the handling of veal calves at a Vermont facility.  USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been asked to provide a response to you.  We appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns.

As you know, USDA launched an immediate investigation upon learning of an undercover video produced by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that depicted animal abuse at Bushway Packing, Inc., of Grand Isle, Vermont.  The deplorable scenes recorded in the video released by HSUS are unequivocally unacceptable.  USDA’s FSIS is continuing its investigation into alleged violations depicted in the video. 
In addition to its ongoing investigation, FSIS immediately suspended inspection at the plant, effectively shutting it down.  USDA fully supports the investigation of all those involved in these alleged violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA), which requires that all livestock at federally inspected establishments be handled and slaughtered in a humane way.  To this end, the Secretary has also called on USDA’s Inspector General to conduct a criminal investigation of the events in the video.

FSIS has a rigorous program to train inspection program personnel in verifying humane handling and slaughter at establishments.  When an FSIS employee observes behaviors that are not in compliance with the HMSA, they are obligated to take immediate action.  FSIS takes its obligation to enforce this law very seriously, and our inspection program personnel are authorized and expected to stop production if they witness egregious violations of the regulations.  Our goal is to prevent the needless suffering of animals while protecting the safety of the food supply. 

Congress provided additional funds in Fiscal Year 2009 for humane handling enforcement.  FSIS has created additional positions to further boost its humane handling verification inspection activities.  FSIS already has strategically placed most of these additional in-plant personnel at locations where they can enhance humane handling enforcement.  The Agency has also established a headquarters-based humane handling coordinator position.  This new position has primary responsibility for providing consistent oversight of field level humane handling activities, particularly those of the District Veterinary Medical Specialists.
 
Under the final rule that FSIS published in March 2009, all non-ambulatory disabled cattle that are offered for slaughter, including non-ambulatory veal calves, must be condemned and disposed of in accordance with Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), section 309.13.  However, we should point out that 9 CFR 309.13(b) does provide that veal calves that are unable to rise from a recumbent position and walk because they are tired or cold may be set apart and held for treatment, but only under appropriate FSIS supervision.
USDA regulates the treatment of livestock under the authority of the HMSA.  The HMSA protects animals when they are presented for slaughter at federally inspected establishments.  For animals within FSIS’ jurisdiction, the Agency does not hesitate to take enforcement action against those establishments that fail to meet humane handling requirements.  However, implementing policies for the humane handling of animals requires the combined efforts of Federal, State, and local authorities, as well as those of private industry.
Regarding the transportation of calves, please be aware that FSIS jurisdiction and food safety responsibilities begin when the animal reaches the slaughter establishments, not at the farm.  State laws generally govern the treatment of farm animals.

Further information about FSIS’ regulation of humane methods of livestock slaughter can be found at the following Web site:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/Humane_Methods_of_Slaughter/index.asp.
 
Thank you again for your message.  We hope this information is helpful to you. 
Sincerely,
Kenneth E. Petersen, D.V.M., M.P.H.
Assistant Administrator
Office of Field Operations

Friday, March 5, 2010

We've moved on Facebook

In case you were wondering what happened to our Facebook "friends" page and "group," we decided to find one permanent home on Facebook so that everyone would be in one place.  We now have a fan page at:


http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Waltham-MA/Our-Place-to-Paws/349901137194?ref=ts

Please join us on Facebook for updates on animals, photos and notifications on our latest blog and Web site content.

See you on Facebook!