Archive for March, 2015|Monthly archive page

Meet Medical Mutts — a local program saving lives and enriching lives

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Shelter animals hold a special place in our hearts because of the predicament in which they find themselves through no fault of their own. They are between life and death in a system that kills them for space and/or medical convenience.

Refreshing are the programs that use shelter animals to bring comfort and aid as “healers” to others. Animal therapy programs provide animals who help strengthen reading skills in youngsters, bring light into the darkness of those suffering from Alzheimers/dementia and mental illness, and more.

Service dog programs provide animals trained for mobility support, to diagnose medical conditions, and to alert patients to impending seizures and hypoglycemia. Dogs used for this kind of assistance are often specially bred for the purpose, assuring a temperament best suited for the task.

But increasingly, experts are recognizing that special breeding isn’t necessary. A local program, Medical Mutts, is a shining example. Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., co-owner of the business, says with a passion:

“We’re dedicated to debunking the myth that service dogs can only be bred for the job.”

move to ACT asked Jennifer more about Medical Mutts. We think you’ll find it inspiring.

Rescue dogs are a perfect fit

“Medical Mutts is an organization dedicated in training rescue dogs as service dogs. The dogs that come through our program have been strays, have been neglected and sometimes mistreated. We specialize in training dogs for diabetic patients, but also for seizures, PTSD, autism and more.

“To accomplish our mission, we work closely with shelters and rescue organizations. We value the hard work of those who dedicate their lives to saving the animals that, through no fault of their own, found themselves in a hard place. There are plenty of great dogs in shelters and rescues, including dogs that might one day save a life. We’re dedicated to debunking the myth that service dogs can only be bred for the job.

“We believe we can offer the best life possible to a dog. Service dogs are guaranteed to never be left alone for long hours at home and to be cared for and loved by people who rely on them and will never surrender them.

Picking the right pup

“We are regularly in need of good dogs. We’re looking for dogs between 1-2 years old, 20-65 lbs with a good food drive. Since they will be going out in public, the dogs cannot be reactive. They need to look friendly and be comfortable with people, dogs and cats.

“Temperament tests only show a portion of the dog’s behavior and aptitudes. So in order to fully evaluate how much potential a dog might have for the type of work we do, we foster the dogs for 4-6 weeks before we decide to adopt them.

“During that time, the dog receives full-time training and a complete physical evaluation with hip dysplasia assessment. If for some reason we have to return the dog, we hope that the adoption to a home is made a little easier. All of our training is reward based only (clicker training).

A partnership for life

“Before placing a dog with a client, we ask the client to come to our facility for several days and learn how to work with the dog. Clients must read a number of books on dog behavior and follow our instructions for the training and care of their new companion.

“After placement, we track their progress for a full year, making sure that the partnership goes well.

“We currently partner with a few shelters and rescues, but we have room for a few more. So we’re reaching out and are looking for organizations that would be interested in working with us.

“In the end, it’s a win-win-win. The rescue or shelter has a regular source to adopt dogs out, thus saving even more lives, and a new avenue to promote their valuable mission. The dogs move on to a fulfilling and loving partnership with their person. And people with disabilities can get the help that they so desperately need.”

Learn more by contacting Jennifer and checking out Medical Mutts online:

Jennifer Cattet Ph.D.
Medical Mutts
Smart Animal Training
Mindful Guardians

Medical Mutts on Facebook

The mission of move to ACT (mtA) is to heighten community awareness of animal welfare issues and to advocate for improved policies and practices. mtA seeks truth and responsibility and is guided by principles of respect, accountability and integrity.

CEO Martha Boden continues to disembowel SPCA Tampa Bay

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

If one takes a look at the dismal performance of SPCA Tampa Bay, it is easy to recognize that anyone who donates to the agency or is a cheerleader for its CEO Martha Boden must be ill-informed.

The SPCA Behind the Kennel Doors organization has been vigilant to document the progression of the agency’s decline on their Facebook page.

move to ACT has also reported on how Boden systematically dismantled the infrastructure of the Humane Society of Indianapolis and left in it financial distress. Now she has again successfully hoodwinked a board of misdirectors into letting her turn SPCA/TB into her own personal cash cow. An honorable animal welfare organization has become a gold mine for Boden’s $118,000 salary and healthy compensation for an oversized administrative staff, while the budget for animal care is virtually marginalized.

Let’s break down the 2014 numbers posted for SPCA/TB and see how this $118K “leadership” is performing.

Dead dogs: 964
Dead cats: 1,363
Total dead dogs and cats: 2,327
Dead “others” 1,046
Total dead dogs, cats and “others” 3,373!

The agency transferred in 547 dogs and cats, displacing 547 other dogs and cats from the community who were then killed. Death by displacement.

Who are the “others”?

Shelter software can handle many definitions. Why then are animals who deserve the dignity of recognition — like rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, birds, and lizards — identified as “other”? Ah, they’re just “other”. Easily incinerated by the crematory operation, “Pet Angels”.

Why, at a private facility with an intake of 7,664 animals and a staff veterinarian, do 125 animals “die in care”? Compare that to the Pinellas County Animals Services with an intake of 12,908 and 47 animals “die in care”. Stats here.

And why do the Pinellas Co stat sheets mirror the categories of the SPCA/TB? Because Boden found, when she arrived in Florida, an administration at the Pinellas Co Animals Services that was easily manipulated. They soon embraced her illusion that she was knowledgeable in the field of animal welfare. Charlatan.

Take a look at SPCA/TB’s statistics over three years. Notice the steady decline in live outcome rates.

A new cash cow joins the herd

Banking Boden

(Pictured above: C1 Bank President Katie Premble, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden, SPCA Tampa Bay board president Marilyn Hulsey and SPCA Tampa Bay board member John Ralph

Wednesday’s Tampa Bay Times and St Pete Patch announced SPCA/TB’s latest venture:

SPCA Tampa Bay buys St. Petersburg building to open veterinary hospital

SPCA officials took as big step toward that goal Wednesday with the announcement it had paid about $1 million for the vacant St. Petersburg office building at 3250 Fifth Ave. N, and plans to spend another $1.25 million renovating the property. When it opens in mid-2016, the hospital is projected to bring up to 20 jobs to the city from entry level animal caretakers to full-time veterinarians.

The decision to open a veterinary hospital is the latest sign of a philosophical change in the organization, said Martha Boden, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO. In the past, the SPCA had concentrated on taking in stray and unwanted animals and trying to adopt them out. Now, the focus has shifted in part to ways to keep animals in their homes.

Boden said the SPCA found that one reason animals were given up was owners’ inability to pay for care. So the new hospital, while charging fees comparable to those in the private sector, will make sure that care is available to all. That could take several forms — payment plans, sliding fee scales, or something else. Boden said the SPCA is studying what works elsewhere.

Newsflash for those drinking her Kool-Aid: “comparable fees” do not “make sure that care is available to all”. Do we hear any mention of anything low-cost?

Care is already available to all. How about the Pet Pal Clinic
just 2 miles away? In the Pinellas Co area actual low cost spay neuter clinics exist at SPOT and the Humane Society .

There are also several affordable mobile veterinary clinics and an affordable clinic in nearby Hillsborough County.

“Payment plans” and “sliding scales” are already offered by veterinary clinics. As far as “something else?” Seems that with a multi-million dollar project, “something else” should be more clearly defined. Or this is a little dangle to intrigue?

Behind the smoke and mirrors

There is nothing innovative about this initiative.

What remaining donors, the mayor and other Boden cheerleaders need to study is her track record of failure in the animal welfare industry. The Humane Society of Indianapolis became a death camp and imploded under her “leadership”, donors withdrew their support and she was terminated with an undisclosed severance package.

The SPCA/TB has become a death camp characterized by documented abuse, neglect and donors have withdrawn support.

What’s the real purpose of this veterinary hospital? The record shows that it has little to do with keeping animals in their homes. It is all about assuring Boden a healthy salary and using the SPCA/TB as a cover to run a business that competes with those already established in the neighborhood.

What kind of care can we expect from a facility run by Boden, when we already know that 250% more animals die at the SPCA/TB than at the municipal facility, which takes in nearly twice as many?

And the “philosophical change”? “Recent” it is not. It started the day Martha Boden came to the SPCA/TB. It was the intention to disembowel an agency that once pulsed with warmth and caring and morph it into a for-profit, self-serving business.

Spend some time Behind the Kennel Doors.

SPCA/TB = Screw People, Critters & All / Too Bad

FTM = Follow the Money

mtA = move to ACT