News and information from FAAWO members

  • 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 | FAAWO (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 | FAAWO (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 | FAAWO (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 | FAAWO (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 | FAAWO (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 | FAAWO (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.


  • 15 Jun 2017 9:25 AM | FAAWO (Administrator)

    Important information about the Canine Influenza Outbreak:

     With the announcement by the Florida State Veterinarian of the first confirmed outbreak of canine influenza H3N2 (CIV H3N2) in the state, other confirmed cases this March in California, and last year's outbreaks in Chicago and a number of other states, this highly contagious disease needs to be on the radar of all shelters and foster-based rescue groups that handle dogs.

    "This is a virus that is highly contagious and easily transmitted within a population of dogs such as those housed in shelters," said Dr. Cynda Crawford of the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida. "Most dogs have no immunity to it. Coughing dogs produce virus-containing mists that can travel 20 feet or more in the air, so the disease can spread in epidemic proportions. Most infected dogs have some symptoms, and some will go on to develop life-threatening pneumonia."

    While the Florida outbreak is associated with dogs who attended a regional dog show, Crawford pointed out that if the outbreak makes its way into shelters, it would severely impact lifesaving capacity. "Because dogs are contagious for up to four weeks, shelters would have to develop extended isolation procedures to prevent spreading the disease back out into the community," she said. "It's very hard for a shelter to house dogs in an isolation capacity for an entire month before they can move to a home or pet placement partner."

    That may sound daunting, but there's good news, too. "Fortunately, CIV is a highly treatable infection that most dogs can recover from without complication," said Crawford. "While the virus can survive in the environment - things like kennel surfaces, crates, food/water bowls, collars/ leashes, toys, beds, vehicles - or on people's clothing and hands for up to 24 hours before it dies, it's easily killed by most disinfectants, handwashing with soap and water, normal laundering of clothing and bedding, and washing food and water bowls and toys with soap and water.

    "It is not a public health threat, or some very lethal disease that would trigger consideration of depopulation. There are strategies to manage CIV transmission within a shelter population with outcomes that save the dogs' lives and get them placed into homes safely, without spreading disease in the community. We've used these strategies for years in shelters, and there is expertise available to help shelters formulate such strategies.

    "Doing that will involve effective communication both internally and with the community at large, including veterinarians. Fortunately, this this type of communication and transparency usually engenders public support and understanding."

    Shelters can also take steps to stop a CIV outbreak before it starts. "Heightened awareness of the presence of CIV in your community or areas you acquire dogs from is key," said Crawford. Her recommendations:

    • If possible, don't admit coughing dogs
    • If you have to admit coughing dogs, isolate them immediately and test for CIV so you'll know how to proceed
    • As people surrendering dogs if they have been coughing, or around other dogs who were coughing or ill, in the last two weeks. If so, ask them it's possible for them to schedule a surrender appointment for two weeks later instead of immediately.

    Crawford also urged foster-based rescue groups to be prepared to respond to CIV H3N2, as they could inadvertently bring an infected dog into their home and expose other dogs in the home to the virus. "But foster homes without other dogs can be a great resource for a sick dog, who will do better in a homelike environment as opposed to an institutional setting. Foster groups can play a major role in helping manage CIV in shelters, but they have to be aware of how to deal with the situation."

    Shelters and foster-based rescue groups who observe a greater-than-normal number of coughing dogs in their care can consult this document for more information, including how to contact the Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at UF and other experts for assistance and advice.


    Additional information can be found at the links below:

    Canine Influenza H3N2: Frequently Asked Questions 

    Management of Disease Outbreaks in Shelters 

    Collection of Swabs for Diagnosis of Respiratory Pathogens by PCR  

    Video: Collection of Swabs from Dogs and Cats for Respiratory Pathogen PCR Testing 

    FAQ for Veterinarians on Canine Influenza 

    Info for Pet Owners on Canine Influenza 

  • 2 Jun 2017 11:47 AM | FAAWO (Administrator)

    2017-18 FAAWO Calendar of Events


    Florida Legislative Webinar
    Advocating for Humane Legislation

    Humane Society of the United States

    August 17, 2017, Noon – 1:00



    Maddie’s Shelter Medicine - Session #1

    From Cats to Caregivers: A Holistic Approach to Caring for Shelter Cats, Staff and Volunteers

    September 14, 2017
    Cat Depot, Sarasota

    9:30 AM to 2:30 PM
    Lunch Included

    Session titles
    • The Million Cat Challenge: Florida’s Urgent Roadmap to Save More Cats
    • Not Another Blue Dot: Advances in FeLV and FIV Management for Shelter Cats
    • Healing Together: Welfare and Wellness for Animal Caregivers


    • Dr. Julie Levy, Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine
    • Dr. Ron Del Moro, Licensed Mental Health Counselor


    • Nonprofits, Shelter Staff, Rescue Volunteers
    • Municipal Organizations
    • Rescue Organization
    • Veterinary Clinics, veterinary technicians, veterinarians


    Teleconference Legislative Lunch

    with Jen Hobgood, Ph.D. Director, State Legislation Southeast Region ASPCA, FAAWO Advisory Board Member
    Details TBD

    Maddie’s Shelter Medicine - Session #2

    “From Cats to Caregivers: A Holistic Approach to Caring for Shelter Cats, Staff and Volunteers”

    October 11, 2017
    Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River, Vero Beach

    9:30 AM to 2:30 PM
    Lunch Included

    Session titles
    • The Million Cat Challenge: Florida’s Urgent Roadmap to Save More Cats
    • Not Another Blue Dot: Advances in FeLV and FIV Management for Shelter Cats
    • Healing Together: Welfare and Wellness for Animal Caregivers


    • Dr. Julie Levy, Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine
    • Dr. Ron Del Moro, Licensed Mental Health Counselor


    • Nonprofits, Shelter Staff, Rescue Volunteers
    • Municipal Organizations
    • Rescue Organization
    • Veterinary Clinics, veterinary technicians, veterinarians


    Best Friends Animal Society Seminar
    Details TBD



    FAAWO Webinar: Community Cat Programs (For more information go here)

    Best Friends Animal Society
    Thu, Jun 15, 2017 12:00PM - 1:00PM EST


    Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. 
    You can also dial in using your phone (but there will be a visual presentation). 
    United States (Toll Free): 1 866 899 4679 
    United States: +1 (571) 317-3117

    Access Code: 863-196-165 

    It’s estimated that nearly three-quarters of cats who enter our nation’s animal shelters each year don’t make it out alive. Most are free-roaming “community cats,” many of whom are not suitable for adoption into homes. This ineffective, costly and inhumane approach to managing community cats is steadily being replaced with progressive community cat programs (CCPs). These shelter-based programs are effective at reducing the numbers of these cats, reducing shelter admissions and shelter deaths, saving taxpayers money and providing a public health benefit to the community. Join Desiree and Emily of Best Friends Animal Society to learn more about these programs and how you can be involved in your own community!

    Emily Prusnek, No More Homeless Pets Network Specialist
    Desiree Triste-Aragon, Community Cats Project Supervisor

    The presentation is roughly 45 minutes with 15+ minutes for questions.
  • 2 Jun 2017 11:06 AM | FAAWO (Administrator)

    Current state Statute requires disclosure of certain shelter data upon request on a monthly basis however not everyone compiles in providing this data.  Further complication of obtaining meaningful data results from no master list of shelters, sanctuaries, and rescue groups in Florida being available. This prevents the development of statewide animal sheltering trends and puts the onus on individuals to collect data.  Some shelters refuse to comply, even though the statute is more than 3 year old. 

    Florida animal shelters are invited to join a statewide initiative to develop a reliable snapshot of the state’s shelter animal census.  Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida is responding to a request for information that we frequently receive from Florida shelter managers:  How many cats and dogs are admitted to shelters each year and what happens to them?

    This is the question that the Second Triennial Florida Shelter Animal Census is meant to answer and a new census is being conducted right now! Your shelter can participate by submitting shelter data for calendar year 2016 (January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016).  We’re asking all Florida animal shelters to fill out a brief survey with your shelter data and information.  Click the button below to launch the official census survey and submit your shelter data and information. 


Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations


Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization

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