Friday, January 20 2017 Pass the candy hearts, please! Celebrating February 14 in a big way is a custom-made fit for you who make matches every day. Check out the following ideas—some low-cost, some no-cost—from your colleagues in the ...

Plan Ahead: 10 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day and more...

Plan Ahead: 10 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Friday, January 20 2017

Pass the candy hearts, please! Celebrating February 14 in a big way is a custom-made fit for you who make matches every day. Check out the following ideas—some low-cost, some no-cost—from your colleagues in the field.


Hubba hubba, Butte Humane Society! That's some sweet Valentine’s Day messaging.


“Let’s go back to your place.” What a perfect, er, tie-in for a certain movie that came out on Valentine’s Day 2015, Asheville Humane Society! What films can you have some fun with this year, shelters? (Hint: the sequel for that certain movie is about to be released.)


We can't decide what's sweeter—this gorgeous graphic, or Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region's great idea to hold $14 adoptions for 3 days last V-Day!


Baltimore Humane invited the community to a Valentine's Day Pet Wedding to celebrate the nuptials between Chico and Te-Te, a dog and cat, and guinea pigs Aladdin and Jasmine. Words don’t do it justice—check out the photos from the big day here.


Hey, Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley—how’d you know folks love a good rhyme almost as much as they love an awesome holiday-themed adoption promo?! Way to celebrate Valentine's Day all month long!


Now is a good time to take advantage if you have access to a professional photographer, as Salt Lake County Animal Services did here.


This is what Valentine’s Day looked like at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue last year, where volunteers delivered “puppygrams” to the recipient’s home or work. Puppy kisses plus a rose, balloon and candy—who could ask for more?! (P.S. This is volunteer Les hard at work!)


Animal Rescue League of Iowa scored major Facebook engagement when they asked fans to post their best pet-kissing photos and compiled them all into this fantabulous photo album.


Yolo County Animal Services Shelter celebrates V-Day all week long, posting eligible furry bachelors and bachelorettes daily on their social media channels.


We heart this strategy from Louisville Metro Animal Services—in this series of Shelter Sweethearts posts, staff members shared what they love about their favorite available animal. Have you tried something similar at your agency?



Since we can never get too much lovin', let us know what you have in store this February 14th.


Related Links

Line ‘Em Up For Canine Kisses

Calendar Resources for February


Raise Your Paw

Thursday, January 19 2017

Get out your decoder glasses as Dr. Emily Weiss digs into the meaning of this common canine behavior—and shares how you can use this info to help the dogs in your care.


I am that science geek in the elevator who gazes at you instead of sticking to the convention of looking down or away. I am fascinated by nonverbal communication—how animals (including us) use their bodies to communicate approach or avoid, approval or disapproval, fight or no fight, among other things. In an elevator, humans display classic behavior indicating no fight—heads tilted slightly downward, eyes avoiding eye contact, body turned to avoid full frontal interaction, arms down on either side of the body. The best part is when the door opens to receive more humans and the jostling and movement ensues, as folks try to move their bodies without contacting others. While we only utter soft murmurs of verbal communication (“Excuse me,” “Sorry” or the like), our bodies are in full-blown chatter mode!

Canines have a wide range of nonverbal communication, and an understanding of that communication can shift any interaction we have to something much more impactful. I have shared here previously the meaning of a variety of behaviors, including what it means when a dog touches you and the importance of the soft eye gaze. Engaging in an interaction with a dog while wearing your decoder glasses can be powerful. Without them, a dog jumping up to your face with soft body and long lip often ends with a dog whose stress level is increased because you simply are not hearing him scream his clear communication of “Greetings. I come in peace.” With those decoder glasses on, the jumping ends quickly and the dog quickly dis-arouses simply because you ‘heard’ (i.e. saw) him.

Another great nonverbal canine communication to recognize is the front paw raise, in which you will see the leg lift and bend at the elbow and also at the carpus (wrist). This behavior is a sign of appeasement, and you will most often see it when dogs greet each other (or you), or when they are aiming to take part in something another has in their possession (your bowl of ice cream, for example).

Why is this behavior important (besides what my boy Tide thinks, which is that if you know I would like to share your ice cream, you are more likely to give me some…)?  While the behavior happens in several contexts, dogs who are unsure of an interaction and want to avoid conflict are quite likely to paw raise. The behavior can help you tell if you need to soften your interaction or response to his behavior. When I interact with a dog and I see a paw raise, I check my body and head position. I find that often I have approached full-frontal which, in canine communication, is bossy and bold.  You can also watch for the paw raise when doing dog-to-dog introductions—dual appeasement is ideal. 

See this interaction between my dog Tide and his buddy, a border collie named Bluefish. Fish is an appeasement master. Note his body soft and turned to the side in relation to Tide, his tail and head low—and his paw clearly raised.



Tide is a little less savvy, but you can see his reciprocal paw raise as well. In this slo-mo version, you can really see the chatter between the two of them.



The more we understand dogs’ nonverbal communication, the more we can do to support their needs and help them shine. Do you have a staff or volunteer meeting coming up? How about asking them to bring their decoder glasses? Grab some video footage of human-canine and canine-canine interactions at your facility, and look for those cues together. The interactions are likely to improve, as is the behavioral health of the dogs in your care. And then there is the added bonus of elevator rides becoming one of the most fascinating times in your day!


Related Links

Blog: “Make ‘Em Laugh”
Blog: “What’s That Dog Trying to Tell You?”


10 Spay/Neuter Promos That Will Make You LOL!

Tuesday, January 17 2017

We all know that spay/neuter is serious business, of course—but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun when promoting it! Using humor helps your social media posts get noticed and shared, helping to spread the word about altering pets. Here are some examples of promos from your colleagues in the field that cracked us up. As you think about messaging for Spay/Neuter Awareness Month this February, we wanted to share some examples of promos from your colleagues in the field that cracked us up. We hope you'll get laughs and lots of inspiration!


Outer Banks SPCA, Manteo, NC



Wisconsin Humane Society, Milwaukee, WI


No More Homeless Pets, Salt Lake City, UT


Central Spay Neuter and Wellness Clinic, Kernersville, NC


Nebraska Humane Society, Omaha, NE


SICSA Pet Adoption Center, Kettering, OH


Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, Asheville, NC


Humane Ohio, Toledo, OH


Humane Rescue Alliance, Washington, D.C.


How do you spread the word about spay/neuter?


Related Links

More Spay/Neuter Resources on ASPCApro

Facebook Album: S&N After Dark


They Did It: Community Pet Health Fairs

Friday, January 13 2017

Six times a year, several organizations throughout Albuquerque team up to hold pet health fairs, events where pet owners can bring their dogs and cats to get the resources they need. At their most recent fair in December, 173 pets and their families were served! Here to tell us more is Leah Remkes, partnership outreach manager at Animal Humane New Mexico.


ASPCApro: Tell us how these pet health fairs came about.

Leah Remkes: We decided to organize pet health fairs to help those who don’t typically have access to vet care. We hold these events in targeted zip codes, so we can bring these resources right to them. At each event, pets receive free vaccines, microchips, collars, leashes, name tags and pet food. We also promote our spay/neuter voucher program and are able to talk about the benefits of spaying and neutering to clients while they are there.

We get to work alongside veterinarians who happily greet each client and pet with a smile to assure them they are someone they can trust. We are able to spend the day with staff and volunteers from different organizations, clinics and schools who make the event run smoothly by being helpful and kind to everyone there. But what we really love about these fairs is that we get to talk with people who are so excited to introduce us to their pets and their families.



ASPCApro: Who is involved?

LR: These events are run by both organizations involved in the ASPCA Albuquerque Community Partnership: Animal Humane New Mexico and Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department. We reach out to veterinarians at private practices who volunteer their time at these events so attendees can meet local medical professionals in Albuquerque.


ASPCApro: Who benefits from a pet health fair?

LR: EVERYONE! Not only do the pets and their owners benefit from having access to care, but our organizations benefit as well. Attendees may have never heard of Animal Humane or Albuquerque Animal Welfare, nor thought of our organizations as places to turn to for help when they need it, but through our pet health fairs we are able to begin a relationship with those we haven’t been able to reach before.


ASPCApro: What is the staff/volunteer time commitment for an event like this?

LR: Staff and volunteers work about 4-5 hours at pet health fairs, and there are many different positions to fill. Shorter shifts are available, too. However, once the event has started and everyone is working together as a team, volunteers normally like to stay and help throughout the day.


ASPCApro: Tell us more about services offered.

Pets and their owners visit pet health fairs to receive vaccines, microchips, pet food and supplies, as well as learn what other resources are available through our shelters. We promote our spay/neuter programs, veterinary clinics, training assistance and, of course, our adoption locations.



ASPCApro: How do you promote the fair?

LR:  Predominantly through Facebook ad targeting, which makes it easy to advertise directly in the zip codes where we will be holding the events. We also print bilingual flyers for distribution at shelter locations as well as where the event will be held. Our most recent fair was held at a public elementary school in the zip code we were targeting. Not only did the principal request flyers to help advertise, but she set up automated calls to the families of the children who attended the school.



ASPCApro: Would you recommend that other communities try something like this?

LR: Absolutely! These events are team-building for staff, volunteers and veterinarians because we are all working together with the goal of helping others. Pet health fairs begin relationships between those who have no access to pet care and places they can now turn to for help. Everyone feels happy and accomplished at the end of the day because they either gave or received needed resources and helped pets in the community.  



If you have any questions for Leah, leave a comment and she’ll be happy to answer!



Related Links

ASPCA Partnership: Albuquerque, NM

They Did It: Fosters On Wheels

ASPCA Position Statement on Keeping Pets and People Together


Make 'Em Laugh

Thursday, January 12 2017

Dr. Emily Weiss shares some classic research on laughter in dogs as she pays homage to a well-known animal behaviorist.


He was charging toward me, head down, shoulders forward. I could see the tension in his thighs as he climbed the hill between the two of us, and I stood my ground waiting for him to get closer. I took a few deep breaths and turned so my back was facing him. I covered my face and crouched, and when I heard him just feet behind me, I turned and yelled…

"I am going to get you!”

He stopped short of the cage barrier, then leaned his belly in and I responded by tickling him. Then, he made a sound that struck me deep in my gut each time I heard it. He huffed and squeaked while his mouth was open wide, lips pulled back…

Bahati, the creative, silly chimp I had known for several years when I worked as a zoo behaviorist, and I were playing our favorite game, “Tickle me ‘til I laugh.”

The vocalizations that occur during play are still new to formal animal behavior study. We have learned much from chimps and some other species, but still have a lot to learn. Several years ago I had the honor to meet Dr. Patricia Simonet. Dr. Simonet had done some great work around the play vocalizations in canines. She called the behavior a laugh—which, depending upon one’s definition of “laugh,” is accurate.

The sound is one that is likely familiar to most of you—it is that breathy huffing that often occurs during play. 

Dr. Simonet not only confirmed that this behavior occurs during times of play, but she also found that the recorded sound decreased arousal in a kennel situation. While playing these sounds in a shelter is not likely to have a lasting impact (as playing any sound over time with no paired stimuli is likely to be quickly habituated to), Dr. Simonet’s data clearly shows that huffing, or laughing, is an important vocalization for our canine companions. I was lucky enough to capture some video of one of my great huffers before he passed away. Take a look:


This behavior is important to us for several reasons. First, and probably most importantly, it is a great educational tool to help folks understand just how much dogs are like us. Dr. Simonet’s work received tons of public attention several years back, in part because she called the behavior a laugh, not a huff. That’s powerful stuff to help increase the bond between people and their pets! Next, by producing the sound ourselves, we can help dogs engage in play together—or with us. Finally, by understanding another cue that indicates play, we can better assess whether a dog is playing. The breathy huffs are clear cues that the game is on!

Unfortunately, Dr. Simonet is no longer alive—she lost her battle with cancer late in 2010. A dog park in Spokane was named in her honor, perfectly named the Laughing Dog Park.


How might you keep her research alive in your shelter?


Related Links

Blog: “So, Why Does My Dog Do That?”

Blog: “Smile…It Could Save a Life”




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