Today’s guest was Melissa Jenkins, Program Coordinator of Operation Catnip, located in Alachua County, Gainesville, Florida. Operation Catnip recently celebrated 20 years of service to the cat community. Along with their dedicated students, volunteer veterinarians and community volunteers they have helped to care for more than 56,000 cats since their inception in 1998.
We learned a lot today about the mission of Operation Catnip. Their life-saving work improves the lives of cats and the communities they live in. They are committed to a number of initiatives including the spaying, neutering and vaccinating of free-roaming (community cats), preventing the birth of kittens, mentoring other programs around the country and training veterinarians to save America’s cats.
What exactly are community cats? Essentially, they are unowned, “free=roaming” cats that are not confined to a yard or a house. They can be well-socialized, friendly and loving. On the other hand, a feral cat speaks more to the behavior or socialization status of a cat as opposed to where it lives. Feral cats are defined as untamed and evasive, generally not interested in a relationship with humans. Sometimes the lines defining these different categories get blurred because some owned cats are allowed to freely roam their neighborhoods. Owned cats can become lost, thus becoming a stray. If they live in the wild for an extended period of time, they may become feral. Sometimes, formerly feral cats can become tamed.
There are programs throughout the United States designed to reduce or manage the populations of community cats. These programs include Trap Neuter Return (or Release, known as TNR), Shelter Neuter Return (SNR) and Return to Field (RTF). Each of these programs has the goal of sterilizing the community cat so it can no longer add to the cat population and then returning it to the location where it was found or trapped. Cats that are returned (as opposed to simply released to an unfamiliar area) to their home communities have a chance to live out their lives as free-roaming cats.
Another novel solution is the concept of Working Cats. A Working Cats is one that can be adopted to a family where its home environment will be a barn, stable, garage, office, retail store or warehouse. These will not be your typical indoor cats that never go outside. Instead, they will likely have an outdoor or indoor/outdoor habitat. Go green! Get a Working Cat to help you control your outdoor rodent or pest populations.
From an estate planning perspective, there are many kind people who support community cats. If something happens to them; either disability or death, what will become of the cats? That's why organizations like Operation Catnip need your support.
If you want more information about Operation Catnip, visit their website or seek them out on social media on FaceBook. You can make a donation to help support their mission.
Today’s guest was Kim Merritt, co-founder and chief advocate for Good Dog in a Box. Good Dog in a Box is a dog products company with it’s roots in positive reinforcement dog training. Their flagship product is a subscription dog training programs for families and their dogs. The program includes a little bit old school mail order, a little bit high tech e-learning, a dash of fun and games, and a pinch of puppy love. You can get a six month or 12- month subscription. Every month there’s a set of new activities for families and their dogs to work through. The goal is to have happy, well-trained dogs and happy families where everyone has learned to speak the language of their dog.
One of the goals of Good Dog in a Box is to reduce the number of dog bites in this country. Kim reported there are 4.7 million dog bites per year. The most common victims are children between the ages of five and nine. A new study reveals that dog bites are not breed specific as the categories of “unknown” and mixed breed are in the top 3 named sources. Biting is most likely to occur when a dog is teased or when a child pulls a tail, tugs the dog’s hair or yanks the dog’s paw. All of these can be avoided through the proper training and education of humans – both children and adults.
To make learning fun, Good Dog in a Box has developed the Dog Smart Card Game and the SAFE Dog Bite Prevention curriculum including a SAFE curriculum for obtaining a Girl Scout’s patch.
Good Dog in a Box now also offers Good Dog Pro with curriculums and training programs for the professional dog trainer. Part of this program includes two new podcasts, including Good Dog Nation. Some of the new courses are a puppy course with Gila Kurtz, founder of Dog is Good, Pet End of Life with Jodi Clock of Clock’s Timeless Pets, Therapy Dog Training with Michelle McCarthy and Estate Planning for Pets with yours truly, Peggy Hoyt.
Future programs will include Dogsurance, a program designed for business owners that allow dogs in the workplace.
For more information about Good Dog in a Box, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Peggy R. Hoyt, Founder/CEO