Monday, July 12, 2010

Good news from Animal Ark

As anyone who has followed animal welfare issues knows, summer is the busiest season for animal shelters. Available funds are generally at their lowest point of the year and demand for services reaches a high as the temperatures climb. As a result, of the business of summer, I have saved up several important and fun announcements for one post. So here it is!

Twin Cities Pet Fix Program Expanding!

After years in operation, Minnesota's largest low-cost spay/neuter program is expanding. Historically, certificates for low-costs and, based on available funding, sometimes no-cost, spay/neuter certificates have been available at the Animal Ark Thrift Store and the Animal Ark Shelter. Within the next month, changes to the program will allow for increased certificate distribution at additional locations, including animal control centers, animal shelters and animal rescue organizations. If a nonprofit animal welfare organization or an animal control center is interested in distributing Pet Fix spay/neuter certificates, all they have to do is contact Animal Ark at (651) 772-8983 Ext. 51.

Wildcat Wednesdays Expanding!

Three years ago, Animal Ark began piloting a program with St. Paul Animal Control to help sterilize, vaccinate and release free-roaming cats in that city. Gradually, over the following years, the program was expanded and refined. In July of 2010, the program is now officially available to anyone seeking services for a free-roaming (i.e. not owned) feline. Each Wednesday, Animal Ark's mobile surgical hospital called "The Neuter Commuter" performs free surgeries, vaccinations and other veterinary services for area feral cats. More information about the program is available by downloading this brochure.

Animal Ark's Endowment Fund Established

More than 30 years ago, Animal Ark was built by a group of compassionate animal lovers in a grass-roots effort to establish Minnesota's first no kill animal shelter. Over the following years, many wonderful achievements have been accomplished. Yet, the long-term financial stability of Animal Ark was always a distant dream. Recently, that began to change with the first sizable donation into Animal Ark's endowment fund. Animal Ark's endowment fund is a capital resource that cannot be used for general operating or program expenses. Its purpose is to provide future income through interest, and, thereby, ensure our long-term financial stability.

According to Animal Ark Founder and President, the current endowment is a great start. However, she also states that ensuring the financial stability of Animal Ark into the future will require a substantial expansion of the endowment.

Animal Ark Cat Center Officially Named

Though relatively small, Animal Ark's cat center has been getting national attention for its creative and innovative design. It features many amenities, like floor to ceiling cat trees, ceramic tile, windows and more. It provides homeless felines with unmatched comfort. Now, it is getting a new name. The Animal Ark cat center is being named in loving memory of Lisa Richcreek Neiland. Lisa is survived by a loving family. Her love of animals - especially cats - will be remembered forever. Animal Ark's cat center will from now on be called the Lisa Richcreek Neiland Cat Center at Animal Ark. An official naming celebration and remembrance day of Lisa's life will be scheduled at Animal Ark, time and date to be announced.

National Speaking Tour Continues

As the national animal welfare movement continues to focus more attention on the programs and services needed to achieve no kill community-wide, Animal Ark is being called upon more frequently to consult with organizations and municipalities outside of Minnesota to help them achieve the no kill goal. We have recently presented in Nashville, TN, and Copperas Cove, TX. We have upcoming speaking engagements scheduled for Austin, TX, Miami, FL, and Washington, DC. Though this work adds to the demands on our time during the busy season, we are proud and privileged to be asked so share our expertise with others.

Animal Ark to Host Monthly National No Kill Webinars

Beginning in the fall of 2010, Animal Ark will be hosting a monthly series of webinars designed to help shelters and animal control centers achieve no kill community wide. The webinars will feature some of the top no kill advocates in the USA, each with proven track records of success. The projected cost per webinar will be under $15 per person. Keep an eye on the Animal Ark web site for additional details to follow.

Mike Fry
Executive Director of Animal Ark
Co-Host of Animal Wise Radio
Animal Ark Main: (651) 772-8983
Mike Fry Direct: (651) 964-3140
Toll Free: (888) 668-0687 Ext 99
FAX: (651) 304-6038

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oscar the cat gets "bionic" feet!

Cat amputee fitted with 'bionic' feet
By Dana Rosenblatt, CNN
July 8, 2010 9:00 a.m. EDT

A British cat has made a full recovery after being fitted with a new pair of artificial feet

The cat, Oscar, had his hind paws accidentally severed by a combine harvester

Vet: Fitting a cat with a prosthesis below its ankle had never been performed

Doctor believes cat's surgery could improve quality of life for human amputees

This cat, whose hind paws were accidentally severed, has been fitted with a new pair of artificial feet.

(CNN) -- If cats have nine lives, they may have just acquired a 10th -- thanks to a groundbreaking surgery that saved the life of a feline double amputee.

A British cat, Oscar, has made a full recovery after being fitted with a pair of prosthetic feet in November. The cat's hind paws were severed by a combine harvester.

The three-hour procedure, performed at an animal hospital in Surrey, England, by neuro-orthopaedic veterinary surgeon Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, could serve as a model for human amputees.

Oscar's custom-made implants, ITAPs (Intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics), were modeled after deer antlers, which have a honeycomb structure that bones can grow through and skin can grow over.

By using computer-generated technology, a team of veterinarians and scientists designed a feline foot that mimics the way a cat walks and runs.

Oscar's implants were attached to his bones and then covered by hydroxypatite, which allows bone cells to grow onto the metal. Skin can then grow over the ITAP to form a seal against bacteria and keep infections at bay.

Custom-built paws were attached to the end of Oscar's prostheses, allowing him to run and jump like normal cats. One video of Oscar walking on his artificial feet has attracted more than 346,000 views on YouTube.

Fitting a cat with a prosthesis at the joint below the animal's ankle is a procedure that had never been performed, said Fitzpatrick, who waited seven months to announce news of Oscar's surgery because he wanted to see how the cat would recover.

The ITAPs, made from titanium aluminum, were first developed by a team of scientists at the University College of London, led by Professor Gordon Blunn.

Oscar's masters, Kate and Mike Nolan, were referred to Fitzpatrick by their local veterinarian in Jersey, England, after Oscar's accident last fall. They decided to proceed with the complicated surgery, knowing it could positively affect human medicine.

But first, Oscar's life-threatening injuries had to be treated and a course of antibiotics administered.

"We had to do a lot of soul-searching, and our main concern has always been whether this operation would be in Oscar's best interests and would give him a better quality of life," said Kate Nolan in a statement released by the animal hospital.

"Through our own background reading, we were aware that this sort of procedure is cutting-edge and also has an impact on human medicine," added Mike Nolan in a statement. "So knowledge about the way that Oscar's been treated can be carried over to human treatment going forward, so that's good for everyone."

While the surgery can benefit humans, Fitzpatrick said his decision to treat Oscar was made first and foremost to save the cat's life.

"He is the most remarkable cat. You can see that he desperately wanted to live," he said.

While many animals can live with only three limbs, it would have been impossible for Oscar to survive with only two limbs, Fitzpatrick said.

Although Oscar's life was insured for 4,000 British pounds (approximately $6,070), Fitzpatrick dedicated much of his time and hospital resources at no cost to treat Oscar.

Fitzpatrick believes the cat's prosthetic surgery could lead to similar advancements for human amputees needing artificial limbs.

"As long as it's in the interest of my patient, if everything works well, we can apply this to human victims," he said.

Oscar has adjusted well to his new legs, Fitzpatrick said, although he'll remain an indoor cat.

He may not chase mice like he used to, but he can still scratch up the furniture.