The information contained within this blog is for information purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of FAAOW.

  • 20 Nov 2017 12:35 PM | Nash McCutchen (Administrator)

    From the Humane Society of Tampa Bay

    TAMPA, FLA (November 20, 2017) – Dr. Karla Bard, Director of Medical Operations at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, led a presentation of landmark research findings at the annual meeting of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) at their special veterinary session on Saturday, October 7th in Atlanta, GA. This prestigious honor reflects the high esteem in which Dr. Bard and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (and AAHA-accredited veterinary facility) are held and the respect gained for their unwavering commitment to relevancy and leading in the field.

    The milestone research findings alleviate concerns that a nationwide rise in high volume spay-neuter facilities has been accompanied by a lower quality of care that leads to an increase in post-surgical mortality rates. According to results from the six-year study, however, high-volume spay-neuter surgery is associated with lower mortality rates, approaching that achieved in human surgery.

    “High volume spay–neuter clinics have been established to save lives by reducing the number of animals admitted to and euthanized in animal shelters,” said Dr. Bard. “The results of our study confirm the absolute safety of these clinics and offer further evidence to support aggressive spay-neuter initiatives.”

    The study and subsequently published research was conducted in partnership with Dr. Julie K. Levy, Maddie’s® Professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program, and supported by a Maddie’s Fund® grant.

  • 9 Nov 2017 5:32 PM | Nash McCutchen (Administrator)

    Did you know the Florida Constitution allows the Legislature to start session early in even-numbered years?

    The 2018 Florida legislative session will start January 9 and it looks like it will be a busy session for animal welfare issues.  The Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations is currently reviewing several bills that have already been drafted and sponsored in the House of Representatives and the Senate and we expect more to be filed in the coming weeks.  FAAWO will keep you updated on these bills and our position on each as we get closer to the start of the session.  Meantime, below is a list of currently submitted bills and links to each.

    Companion Animal Public-Private Partnership Act: Prohibits animal shelters from euthanizing animals under certain conditions; authorizes animal shelters to assess certain fees; provides exceptions.

    HB 249 has been introduced by Rep. Barbara Watson in the House.

    HB 249

    Animal Importation: Prohibits shelters, organizations, agencies, & individuals from importing animals into this state.

    Bills have been filed in both the Senate and in the House. SB 132 was filed by Sen. Greg Steube; HB 153 by Rep. Elizabeth Porter.

    SB 132

    HB 153

    Animal Hoarding:
    Defining the term “animal hoarding”; prohibiting animal hoarding

    SB 86 has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

    SB 86

    Animal Cruelty: Prohibiting the malicious or capricious killing of dogs or cats; providing penalties

    SB 200 has been filed by Sen. Greg Steube.

    SB 200

  • 11 Oct 2017 1:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Hurricane Irma demonstrated the need for Florida animal welfare organizations to work together in support of existing and newly created homeless animals.  Our collective response illustrated what happens when organizations bring together their focus and resources in addressing the needs of others.  Using our state-wide information and resource network, FAAWO and several other animal welfare organizations helped connect shelters negatively impacted by Irma with those capable of offering assistance and support. 

    FAAWO received offers of assistance from 23 organizations and individuals outside Florida (fourteen varying states as well as support from organizations located in Canada) and 24 offers of assistance from organizations located within Florida. Ready, able and willing to offering support in transporting animals, delivering supplies, and coordinating logistics, the outpouring of support was incredible. Hundreds of animals were saved from dire conditions and many found new homes through the grace and support of other welfare organizations and the communities they serve.

    One of FAAWO’s goals is to unite animal advocates throughout Florida.  Hurricane Irma highlighted ways our network works together to improve our collective response to disasters through the development of a state-wide response team.  Working collaboratively, FAAWO, FACA, state and national agencies along with other animal welfare organizations will continue to learn from Irma and prepare for future events.

  • 18 Sep 2017 9:06 AM | Nash McCutchen (Administrator)


    UPDATE 9/17/17: The ASPCA is offering food, crates, plastic carriers, food of all kinds, bedding, pet beds, treats, litter, etc. to those impacted by Irma or assisting with recovery.

    For more information please email our distribution center.  Provide us with information on your disaster recovery needs:

    9/9/17: The scope of Irma’s impact in FL is not yet known, but it’s clear many, many agencies will be affected. The Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations (FAAWO), Florida’s statewide membership organization for nonprofit animal welfare agencies, is coordinating with its members to assess needs and provide support during and after the storm.
    If you are at a shelter in Florida and need assistance of any kind OR if you’re able to offer trained personnel for animal care and rescue, transport of animals out for adoption, supplies, equipment, etc., please contact Lori Minton at Lori is doing the initial triage of offers and requests on behalf of FAAWO.


    Lacie Davis, Disaster Manager

    Kristen Limbert, Transport Logistics
  • 6 Sep 2017 1:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you talk to anyone in the animal shelter world, they will tell you that ours is a constantly changing atmosphere. At the SPCA of Brevard, we pride ourselves on being progressive and open minded. If an article comes through our email or if another shelter has a new policy they like, we will give it a go and see what we think.

    This month, our newest idea to come through was “swapping” our animals with other no-kill animal shelters in Florida. Over the years, we have taken dogs and cats from private rescues to give those animals an opportunity to meet a new audience and increase their possibility of adoption. However, we have never sent our own animals out.  Tibor Feigel, our friend and volunteer Dog Trainer from West Palm mentioned that his shelter in West Palm was talking with the SPCA Florida about swapping dogs… but the movement had not begun. When he mentioned this, I was so excited because it seemed like a new opportunity for some of our long-term adoptable dogs…. I got the contact number for his person at SPCA Florida and started the process.

    Rudie Fox at the SPCA Florida was excited as well. When I told her that we wanted to try swapping, she was all for it. We exchanged lists of dogs and took a day to pick five from the list that we thought would do well in our shelters.  Several days later, I was on the road to Lakeland with five of our longest-term dogs on board. The exchange went wonderfully, without a hitch. Any concerns we had with doing this “swap” melted away once I saw the SPCA Florida’s large playgroup yards, clean kennels, and behavior notes on all of their adoptable dogs. I felt confident that our dogs would be loved and well taken care of, and I feel confident that this process will go smoothly. I am hopeful all ten dogs involved will find new homes quickly and having a new audience and staff will benefit them greatly.

    If all goes well, we hope to continue this relationship with a common goal of higher adoption rates and a shorter length-of-stay, and of course, happier dogs.  For more information on this program feel free to contact Angie Friers at or Adam Stanfield at

  • 5 Sep 2017 5:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the ASPCA:

    America’s horses—both domestic and wild—are in serious jeopardy.

    Every year Congress must approve language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. The amendment effectively bars this grisly industry from setting up shop in the U.S. Unfortunately, this year, the House Appropriations Committee failed to pass the necessary amendment, meaning horse slaughter could return in a matter of months.


  • 1 Sep 2017 2:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In a decision that will have wide and positive implications for cats, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates voted last week to support programs that sterilize and return unowned cats to the community.


  • 24 Jul 2017 10:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    State Approves Ending Dog Races At Miami Track

    July 20, 2017 4:22 PM

    Filed Under: FloridaGreyhound RacingJai AlaiMagic City Casino

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    TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) –Florida gambling regulators this week gave a Miami dog track permission to ditch greyhound races but keep more lucrative slot machines and card games, in a first-of-its-kind ruling.

    The Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Wednesday granted a request from West Flagler Associates, which operates Magic City Casino in Miami, to replace dog races with jai alai matches, as part of a drawn-out legal dispute over a controversial “summer jai alai” permit.

    It’s the first time a pari-mutuel facility has been allowed to drop dog or horse races and continue operating slots.

    The Magic City decision is rooted in a 1980 Florida law that allows Miami-Dade and Broward pari-mutuels that have the lowest betting handle for two consecutive years to convert to summer jai alai permits. But if those pari-mutuels do not seek conversion, other facilities can seek the permits.

    The Miami dog track’s lawyer, John Lockwood, first sought the summer jai alai permit for Magic City in 2011.

    After much legal wrangling, the department’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering denied the track’s request to do away with dog races, launch jai alai games and keep lucrative slots the track began operating after voters signed off on the machines in 2004.

    But the 3rd District Court of Appeal ordered gambling regulators to reconsider the issue.

    In a declaratory statement issued Wednesday, state regulators said Florida law gives the track the green light to do away with dog races, as long as the jai alai matches take place at the same facility where the current greyhound permit is operated.

    “The jai alai fronton is going to take up significantly less space than the greyhound track, so this frees up West Flagler to develop its property to the highest and best use,” Lockwood told The News Service of Florida on Thursday.

    Wednesday’s decision came in response to a question posed by Magic City, asking regulators if the pari-mutuel would still be able to operate slots if the dog races were discontinued and replaced by jai alai games.

    The answer rests on whether “a licensed pari-mutuel facility as present in Florida law means `the actual racetrack or jai alai fronton,’ ” Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering Director Anthony Glover wrote in Wednesday’s declaratory statement.

    If so, the summer jai alai permit wouldn’t meet the requirements “because a new fronton would have to be built,” Glover wrote.

    Alternatively, if a “licensed pari-mutuel facility” means “the areas of the facility where pari-mutuel activity takes place, petitioner’s summer jai alai permit operating at the same location as where the greyhound permit was located would remain an eligible facility,” Glover wrote, siding with the dog track.

    “… It is apparent that the Legislature intended for the term `licensed pari-mutuel facility’ … to refer to the physical location or piece of property utilized for pari-mutuel wagering, rather than just the racetrack or jai alai fronton itself,” he wrote.

    The agency’s decision won’t have broad implications but comes as lawmakers consider a push by gambling operators who want to do away with live dog and horse racing while holding onto slots or card rooms.

    “It’s pretty clear that the department intends for this to not have any far-reaching effects, but once again, John Lockwood has masterfully used a unique set of circumstances to create a positive outcome for his client,” Scott Ross, a former deputy secretary at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation who is now a lobbyist representing other gambling operators, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

    Hartman and Tyner, Inc., and H&T Gaming, Inc., which operate rival Mardi Gras Casino and Racetrack in Broward County, had sought to intervene in the case.

    Lawyers for the Hallandale Beach dog track argued that Magic City was asking regulators to establish “a new and completely unfounded policy that improperly expands the types of permits eligible for slot machine gaming beyond what the plain terms” of the Constitution and state law allow.

    But in Wednesday’s declaratory statement, gambling officials rejected the petition to intervene, saying Mardi Gras had not shown “with particularity what real and immediate injury or impact the outcome of the declaratory statement would have had on the intervenors.”

    Multiple attempts to reach representatives of Mardi Gras were unsuccessful.

    Isadore Havenick, vice president of the family-owned West Flagler Associates, which also operates a greyhound track in Southwest Florida and owns a 25 percent share of a jai alai fronton in Dania Beach, said Magic City sought to put an end to the dog races in Miami because “nobody wants to watch them.”

    The Havenicks are among the track owners who have pushed lawmakers to allow pari-mutuels to “decouple,” which would allow operators to do away with live horse or dog races while keeping more lucrative gambling activities such as slots or card rooms.

    “Since decoupling hasn’t happened, and since jai alai has to run fewer performances than dogs do, we said if we have two permits at the same location, why can’t we switch sports that we do here,” Havenick told the News Service on Thursday. “Nobody’s watching. Our dog men complain that they have to come over to Miami and deal with Miami when they get no customers in the stands. So this is a way for us to try a new sport and see if we can make it go of that.”

    “The News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam contributed to this report."

  • 13 Jul 2017 12:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    On June 15th FAAWO held a forty-five minute webinar including Q&A addressing the plight of shelters in managing pet overpopulation.  Guest host Emily Prusnek, Specialist at No More Homeless Pets Network, and Desiree Triste-Aragon, Community Cats Project Supervisor, shared information on the relevant subject matter.

    In all, twenty-nine individuals participated in the webinar consisting of twenty-five organizations and two independents.  The response was wonderful and our feedback validated the need and direction that FAAWO seeks to provide all of our Animal Welfare partners.

    “This morning's webinar was fabulously educational for me.  It made me realize how far ahead Manatee County is on our community cat program. Thanks for letting me know about it!”  Sue

  • 28 Jun 2017 8:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Public Release: 23-May-2017

    Declawing linked to aggression and other abnormal behaviors in cats



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    IMAGE: The surgery, which involves removing the distal bone of the toes, is banned in many countries. view more 

    Credit: Nicole Martell-Moran

    Declaw surgery (onychectomy) is illegal in many countries but is still a surprisingly common practice in some. It is performed electively to stop cats from damaging furniture, or as a means of avoiding scratches. Previous research has focused on short-term issues following surgery, such as lameness, chewing of toes and infection, but the long-term health effects of this procedure have not to date been investigated.

    According to research published today in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery*, declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting. This is not only detrimental to the cat (pain is a major welfare issue and these behaviors are common reasons for relinquishment of cats to shelters), but also has health implications for their human companions, as cat bites can be serious.

    For the study, the author group, based in North America, investigated a total of 137 non-declawed cats and 137 declawed cats, of which 33 were declawed on all four feet. All 274 cats were physically examined for signs of pain and barbering (excessive licking or chewing of fur) and their medical history was reviewed for unwanted behaviors. They found that inappropriate toileting, biting, aggression and overgrooming occurred significantly more often in the declawed cats than the non-declawed cats (roughly 7, 4, 3 and 3 times more often, respectively, based on the calculated odds ratio). A declawed cat was also almost 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with back pain than a non-declawed cat (potentially due to shortening of the declawed limb and altered gait, and/or chronic pain at the site of the surgery causing compensatory weight shift to the pelvic limbs).

    The surgical guideline for performing declawing, as recommended by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, is to remove the entire third phalanx (P3), which is the most distal bone of the toe. Despite this, P3 fragments were found in 63% of the declawed cats in this study, reflecting poor or inappropriate surgical technique. While the occurrence of back pain and abnormal behaviors was increased in these cats, the authors emphasize that even optimal surgical technique does not eliminate the risks. They explain that removal of the distal phalanges forces the cat to bear weight on the soft cartilaginous ends of the middle phalanges (P2) that were previously shielded within joint spaces. Pain in these declawed phalanges prompts cats to choose a soft surface, such as carpet, in preference to the gravel-type substrate in the litter box; additionally, a painful declawed cat may react to being touched by resorting to biting as it has few or no claws left to defend itself with.

    Lead author of the paper Nicole Martell-Moran, a veterinary practitioner in a cat-only clinic in Houston, Texas, USA, comments: 'The result of this research reinforces my opinion that declawed cats with unwanted behaviors may not be "bad cats", they may simply need pain management. We now have scientific evidence that declawing is more detrimental to our feline patients than we originally thought and I hope this study becomes one of many that will lead veterinarians to reconsider declawing cats.'


    *Martell-Moran NK, Solano M and Townsend HGG. Pain and adverse behavior in declawed cats. J Feline Med Surg. Epub ahead of print 23 May 2017. DOI: 10.1177/1098612X17705044.

    The article is currently free to read here.


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