Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time to solve our feral cat problem

Jay is a neutered Barn Cat. Not a
feral, but not exactly a pet either,
Jay is ideal for solving your rodent
problems and is hoping you’ll put
him to work. Contact YHS at
445-2666 for more information.
Yesterday was National Feral Cat Day. At the Yavapai Humane Society everyday is Feral Cat Day!  In a perfect world, all cats would have a loving home. Unfortunately, unaltered cats permitted to roam freely either become feral or produce feral offspring. Feral means wild, meaning these cats are unsuitable as pets. Rather than kill feral cats YHS promotes reducing their numbers through a process called TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return). This process is managed through an YHS program called Operation FELIX (Feral Education and Love Instead of X-termination). 

Why not just kill feral cats? Besides being inhumane, these felines serve a valuable community purpose. Feral cats keep rodents in check; and they do this without the use of pest control chemicals that are toxic to the environment and dangerous to pets, wildlife and children. By reducing rodent populations, feral cats also help reduce the incidence of many diseases carried by rodents, including the Plague, Leptospirosis and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome..

Feral cats are how a community controls rodent infestation and disease; TNR is how a community controls its feral cat population.

Leonardo Fibonacci, a preeminent mathematician during the Middle Ages, created a formula relating to agriculture productivity. Six centuries later, Louis Pasteur, used this model to accurately predict that 70 percent of a susceptible population has to be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic of a contagious disease. This discovery came to be known as Fibonacci's 70 percent Rule which is recognized today by the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control.

If we consider sterilization as a method of "vaccinating" feral cats against the "disease" of overpopulation then, according to the Fibonacci Rule, 70 percent of the susceptible population in the Quad-City region must be sterile to affect a population decrease. Once the 70 percent rate is achieved, the transmission odds (successful breeding encounters) of the remaining 30 percent will only be enough to replace normal attrition.

YHS has secured grants to help fund Operation FELIX, but to achieve 70 percent more help is needed. Municipal leaders can help by allocating monies to help fund Operation FELIX. YHS will match each municipality's allocation to this program with dedicated grant monies to help their respective neighborhoods. 

As a community we can choose to pay the modest costs of funding targeted spay/neuter programs designed to fix the problem or we can return to paying the ever increasing costs of catching and killing animals. YHS promotes proactive solutions and hopes you'll support this effort by sending a donation to "Operation FELIX" or by volunteering to help staff this program. For more information, visit or call 445-2666 to sign up for a TNR class.

If you currently manage or feed a feral cat colony, call the YHS Spay/Neuter Clinic to schedule an appointment to have your cats sterilized. Grant monies may allow you to have this done for free. Call 771-0547 for more information.

Ed Boks Ed Boksis the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Is the Yavapai Humane Society no-kill ethic here to stay? It's up to you

Yavapai Humane Society executive director Ed Boks (left) 
and Board President Gloria Hershman (far right) present 
the prestigious Yavapai Humane Society Founder’s Award 
to Kathy Coleman, John Tarro and Max Fogleman.
What a celebration! I'm talking about the Yavapai HumaneSociety's annual Reigning Cats & Dogs Gala this past Saturday. This year we celebrated YHS's 41st anniversary and the role the organization has played in transforming the central and western region of Yavapai County into the safest, pet-friendliest community in the nation! 

As we celebrated the many successes of the past four decades, a big question concerning YHS' future was put before the over 350 Gala celebrants. That question was this: Is no-kill here to stay? Was the success of the past three years an anomaly or a beachhead? 

The resounding response of the gala guests was "Yes, no-kill is here to stay" - and their commitment to the "no-kill" ethic was demonstrated by a record yield in donations dedicated to funding the Yavapai Humane Society's many life-saving programs. 

At this year's event, YHS Board President Gloria Hershman presented the prestigious Yavapai Humane Society Founder's Awards to former board members John Tarro, Kathy Coleman and Max Fogleman. This dynamic trio helped guide YHS through some of its most difficult years while laying the foundation for YHS's most recent successes. 

One of the livelier auction items was for naming rights for the new YHS Cat Care Center. The opening bid was $10,000 and, after a fun and exciting bidding war with Hooligan's proprietors Pat and Nancy O'Brien, Don and Shirl Pence emerged the winners with a $32,000 bid. 

In addition to winning the naming rights for the new Pence Cat Care Center, Don and Shirl served their traditional role as this year's Founders of the Feast by underwriting another year's gala. Without their generous support, and the support of so many others, YHS could never accomplish all that it does. 

The Pences were recognized along with Lou Silverstein and Peggy Stidworthy in the first-ever Founder's Award Presentation at last year's gala. The vision, leadership and generosity of all our founders laid a sure foundation for YHS and we are profoundly grateful to them all. 

Would you like to help make sure "no-kill" is here to stay? Please consider joining these visionaries in their support of the "no-kill ethic" through the YHS PAWS program. Together we can continue to make our community the safest in the nation for pets.

You can do this by donating just $10 a month to ending the killing of adoptable pets. What a difference that would make! With that kind of steady support, YHS could reliably continue to save animals' lives, fight cruelty, and rescue and protect lost, homeless, sick, abused and neglected animals in our community.

And it's easy to participate in the YHS PAWS (Planned Automatic Withdrawal Service) program. You'll be joining a growing number of people who are making our entire community a true humane society. By joining PAWS an automatic donation of your choice is safely sent to YHS each month. Donors can sign up using a Visa, MasterCard or Discover. You simply choose the amount that feels comfortable to you; and you can change or cancel your participation any time.

A monthly contribution of just $10 (or more) helps feed hungry homeless animals, provide life-saving medicine to ailing animals, and vaccinate and spay/neuter needy pets to help reduce pet disease and overpopulation. Where else can so little do so much? 

Visit to sign up to be part of the YHS PAWS solution and help make sure no-kill is here to stay! 

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What to do in a dog attack

What is the tool of choice when breaking up a serious dog fight? First, let's review the ineffective tools commonly used.

Contrary to popular opinion, pepper spray and Mace are seldom effective. In fact, these agents are known to actually provoke dogs into redirecting their aggression. Because these agents must be accurately directed at close range the person applying the agent is often the target of this redirection - and if the person is affected or overcome by the agent (which depends on which way the wind is blowing) the consequences to the person can be severe. 

Tasers are virtually useless against fur-covered animals; and tranquilizer darts must be placed accurately to be effective, which is difficult when a dog is in attack mode; and the tranquilizer takes several minutes to work during which time the animal can do significant damage.

What then is the best way to break up a dog fight without injuring the animals or putting yourself at unnecessary risk? The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) recommends fire-extinguishers. 

With a fire-extinguisher, an intervener does not have to closely approach the dogs or have an accurate aim to deter an attack. Fire-extinguishers don't quickly run out of "ammunition" or produce an erratic ricochet; and they are non-lethal. If the fire-extinguisher is exhausted while the dog attack continues the empty cylinder can be used as a shield or a bite stick. 

Fire-extinguisher contents tend to make animals short of breath without lasting harm; and most dogs retreat from the snake-like hiss of a discharging fire-extinguisher. 

Fire-extinguishers can be found in most every kitchen, near every fireplace, and in every car, bus, truck, taxi, and patrol car, and they are prominently located in every public building and place of business.

Should the unfortunate happen and you are bitten it's best to push against the biter instead of pulling away; this forces most dogs to open their mouths, and enables the victim to avoid the ripping injuries that result from pulling away from a dog's serrated teeth. However, this strategy may not be universally applicable to all dog bites. 

In fatal and disfiguring attacks, the first bite often disables the victim preventing them from pushing against the bite, or protecting themselves, or doing any of the other things conventionally advised. The only effective defense against this type of an attack is preventing the attack from occurring in the first place. 

When attacked by a dog it is important to understand dogs tend to attack whatever part of a person is closest to them, so putting an object, any object, between you and the dog will likely redirect the attack towards the object in your hand and away from you.

It's important to keep your balance. Fending off a dog attack by swinging an object, such as a baseball bat or a golf club, is dangerous; the dog may dodge the blow and take advantage while the person is off-balance to inflict serious injury. The correct way to use a bat or golf club is as a bite-stick held out to keep the dog at maximum distance from oneself. 

Most dog on dog and dog on person attacks can be prevented by properly training and socializing your pet. It is never too late to invest in your canine companion by teaching him "good citizenship" skills. 

Lastly, remember to keep your dog on a leash six feet or less in length in public places. Not only is this the law (yes, retractable dog leashes are illegal in public places), but a short leash gives you better control to either prevent or save your dog from an attack.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Government shutdown has negative impact on animals

Potter, a handsome Sharpei
mix, displays his affection 
with lean-ins and kisses. 
While outgoing with humans, 
he can be temperamental 
with other canines. He walks 
with strength on his leash 
and may require obedience 
training for the enjoyment 
of his companionship. 
Come meet Potter today 
or check out his video at 

under Adoptable Dogs.
As the budget stalemate in Washington led to a temporary government shutdown animal advocates are wondering how this unusual event will impact those who have no voice - our nation's animals.

Here is a brief outline describing how the following animal welfare-related duties are being affected during this shutdown:

Puppy Mills: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not performing all of its duties under the Animal Welfare Act. Specifically, it is not inspecting puppy mills or pet dealers. During this break in oversight, untold harm could be done to commercially bred animals simply because no one is empowered to monitor their safety. The puppy mill industry is notorious for egregious animal abuse and neglect; the mind reels at what these animals will suffer without any oversight. 

Horse Soring: Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse's legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Caustic chemicals and blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene are applied to the horse's limbs, causing extreme pain.

Another form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting a horse's hoof almost to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive part of his soles on a block or other raised object. This causes excruciating pressure and pain whenever the horse puts weight on the hoof.

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act to combat the abusive practice of horse soring. APHIS oversees the inspection of at-risk show horses to ensure they have not been sored and assesses penalties for violations. Suspension of the APHIS program will allow unscrupulous trainers to take advantage of this lapse in oversight.

Animal Slaughter: The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) uphold the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act related to the treatment of animals prior to and during slaughter. This has been deemed a necessary function, so FSIS inspectors will continue to monitor food safety and humane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses during the shutdown.

Wild Horses: Federal agencies periodically round up and remove large numbers of free-roaming wild equines on public rangelands. This policy often results in tens of thousands of wild horses languishing in holding facilities. Roundups are suspended during the shutdown, but caretakers for the horses already confined will remain on the job.

Zoos/Circuses: Exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act; unfortunately, the welfare of these animals is suspended for the time being. 

Animals in Laboratories: The USDA enforces the AWA to ensure minimum standards of care for animals in laboratories. While employees are on the job maintaining the animals, there is no USDA watchdog ensuring that minimum standards of care are being met. This is another industry whose history is seriously tainted by egregious animal abuse and neglect. The temporary lack of oversight puts these animals again at great risk.

For more information on the Yavapai Humane Society's position on these and other animal welfare issues visit and click on Position Statements

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Business-savvy landlords allow pets

Guru is a STAR (Special Treatment and
Recovery) animal. He was hit by a car,
saved by Yavapai Humane Society,
and completely on the mend now.
Guru is a very sweet 8-year-old male
Chihuahua in need of someone to love.
If you would like to help other needy
STAR animals, please make a donation 
to the YHS STAR Program. 

The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) is hosting its annual "Empty the Shelter Adoptathon" this month. During the month of July, adopters can pick their price on most dogs and all cats and kittens. With the largest selection of adoptable pets in Yavapai County, YHS is the pet adoption center of choice.

Sadly, one of the challenges potential adopters face comes from landlords who refuse pets despite hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. In fact, a survey conducted by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare found:

• Fifty percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets;

• Thirty-five percent of tenants without pets would own a pet if permitted;

• Tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months in rentals prohibiting pets;

• The vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing is lower (10 percent) than "no pets allowed" rentals (14 percent); and

• Twenty-five percent of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing are seeking pet-friendly rentals.

With such a sizable potential tenant pool it seems there should be enough pet-friendly housing to meet demand. According to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets (where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs) pet-friendly housing should always be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords.

Why then do so many landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by providing pet-friendly housing? With nearly 70 percent of American households having companion animals and over half of renters who do not have a pet wanting one, why are so few pet-friendly rental units available?

The report found that among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7 percent), followed by noise (52.9 percent), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2 percent) and insurance issues (41.2 percent). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9 percent).

Although 85 percent of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In most cases, landlords could simply subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords experience no substantive loss. There is little, if any, difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.

Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required slightly less than one hour per year of landlord time. This is less time than landlords spend for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spend addressing pet-related problems is offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of 8 hours per unit.

The study found problems arising from allowing pets to be minimal; and benefits outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets.

YHS receives many wonderful pets because of this unnecessary housing shortage. Imagine if all Yavapai County landlords permitted pets. That would create a demand far greater than the number of pets dying in our shelters, allowing our community to maintain its status among the safest communities in the United States for pets.

Unfortunately, too many landlords overlook the opportunity to increase revenue, tenant pools and market size by allowing pets. While the benefits to landlords are easily quantified in a profit/loss statement, the benefit to our community's homeless pets is incalculable. Landlords can make a profitable, life-saving choice by simply permitting pets.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

It takes a villiage to sustain no-kill

Kill Rate = number of animals killed in 12
mos divided by human census grouped 
by 1,000.  For instance, YHS jurisdiction 
population is 154,482.  So 154 is divided 
by 134 animals killed in past 12 months
 = 0.8.  Above numbers provided by
ANIMAL PEOPLE 2012  Report. 
In July 2010, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) implemented a "no-kill" ethic. YHS applies this "ethic" by using the same criteria for deciding a homeless animal's fate that a loving pet owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply. That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them. 

The "no-kill" ethic embodies our commitment that for every animal who comes through YHS' doors there is a kind and loving person or family - and it is our mission to bring them together.

Each July, I report on our progress towards achieving "no-kill." There are three statistics animal shelters use to measure their success, or failure, in reducing pet euthanasia (or killing). These numbers help tell the whole story:

The Live Release Rate (LRR) refers to the number of animals who get out of a shelter alive. It includes adoptions, transfers to rescue organizations, and lost pets returned to owners. Some shelter experts claim a 90 percent LRR is the threshold to "no-kill." Since July 2010, YHS has maintained a 91 percent LRR (and a 95 percent LLR in 2012 and a 97 percent LLR in 2013 YTD).

The Euthanasia Rate reports the actual number of animals euthanized. In the first year implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS achieved a 63 percent reduction in killing, followed by a 64 percent reduction in year two, and a 40 percent reduction in year three; for an overall reduction of 92 percent over the past three years. This translates into four additional lives saved every day of the year.

The Per Capita Kill Rate refers to the number of animals killed per 1,000 residents. Prior to implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS was killing 17.25 animals per 1,000 residents; one of the worst kill rates in the state. However, in the 12 months ending June 30, the YHS kill rate was 0.8; the lowest in the nation! This rate is calculated by using the 2010 U.S. Census population estimate for central and western Yavapai County of 154,482 (131 animals killed / 154 = 0.8).

There are many ways everyone can help maintain our status as the safest community in the United States.

1. Spay/neuter your pets: Pets should be spay/neutered before sexual maturity. Call the YHS Spay/Neuter Clinic (771-0547) to make an appointment today!

2. Microchip your pets: YHS has one of the highest "Return to Owner" rates in the nation (50 percent). When your pet comes to YHS with an up-to-date microchip, he has a guaranteed ticket home. For a limited time, microchips can be purchased for just $15 at the YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic any Friday without an appointment (2989 Centerpointe East, Prescott). For an additional $9.95, you can register your pet for life!

3. Support YHS by becoming a PAWS (Planned Automatic Withdrawal Service) donor (visit for information on how to sign up). By joining PAWS, an automatic monthly donation of your choice comes to YHS without the hassle of sending in a check. Each month our secure system automatically processes your donation. You choose an amount that feels comfortable and you can change or cancel your participation at any time.

4. Include YHS in your planned giving: Attend a free YHS Planned Giving Seminar on Aug. 1 at the Prescott Lakes Country Club at 7:30 a.m. A complimentary deluxe breakfast will be provided. The seminar is entitled "Reduce Taxes and Save Lives: Tax Reduction and Planned Giving Strategies presented by Jeffrey Brooks, CPA, CFP, MBA. Please RSVP by calling 445-2666 ext. 20. I look forward to seeing you there!

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's the most dangerous week of the year for pets

Zues, a two-year old American
Staffordshire terrier lost during
the Doce Fire had a microchip that
that allowed him to be returned
to his frantic owner. Please get
your pets’  microchipped before
the 4th of July  holiday; it is a
 gift of life to your pet!
The next 10 days is the most fun and raucous time in Prescott. The festivities culminate around the 4th of July with outdoor celebrations, picnics, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. Before you pack up to the lake or the outdoor arena, stadium or even your own front yard to enjoy the pyrotechnic delights of the holiday, be aware of your pets' needs and fears.
The Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) experiences a significant increase in the number of lost (and injured) pets brought to our Lost & Found Pet Center after every July 4 holiday.

"The days following the 4th of July are the busiest days of the year at YHS with people turning in lost pets or looking for lost animals," said Margo Stucker, manager of the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center, located at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road off Prescott Lakes Parkway in Prescott.

Even pets who are normally calm and obedient can show unpredictable behavior when frightened. Dogs and cats can become frightened or confused by the excitement and loud noises of the holiday. YHS has rescued terrified pets who have chewed through their tethers, jumped through plate glass windows or over fences, and escaped "secure" enclosures.

Dogs attempting to flee the frightening, and even painful noises of the fireworks may lose their sense of direction and run long distances risking injury or death as they dart in and out of traffic. This is one of the most dangerous times of year for your pets.

Up close, fireworks can burn or injure your pets, but even if they are far away, they still pose a unique danger to your companion animals.

To minimize the danger to your pets take these few simple steps before you set out to celebrate this Fourth of July:

• Keep pets indoors in an enclosed area that they are familiar with to minimize fear. If possible, turn on a radio to mask the noise of the fireworks or other celebratory noises.

• If your pet is excitable, consult with your veterinarian ahead of time to arrange administration of a proper calming drug.

• If you have to be away for an extended time, board your pets with family or friends you trust and can assure you that the pet will be kept confined and cared for.

• Always be sure your pet has a current microchip. A microchip is the best identification for a pet because it is always with him and it makes it easier for YHS to find you should the unthinkable happens and your pet manages to escape.

• Even if you think your pet is ok with fireworks and noise, do not let him out when fireworks are being lit and set off. The pet may run at them and sustain serious burns, or bolt and run.

If your pet happens to escape during the holiday festivities, be diligent in visiting the YHS Lost & Found Pet Center every day, and posting "Lost Dog" or "Lost Cat" signs and canvassing surrounding neighborhoods. Place a yard sign in front of your house with a picture of your pet and your phone number. People who find lost pets will often walk or drive around the area attempting to find the owner. Remember, fright can drive an animal to new and unfamiliar grounds, many miles from your home. So exhaust all avenues. This 4th of July holiday can be the best ever if you take these precautions to keep your pets safe and happy while you enjoy the festivities without having to worry about the family pet.

Life-saving microchips can be purchased without an appointment at the YHS Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic located at 2989 Centerpointe East on any Friday (call 771-0547 for more information) or at the YHS Lost & Found any Monday or Wednesday through Friday (call 515-2379 for more information). Please protect your pets this 4th of July.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Majority favors mandatory pit-bull spay/neuter ordinance

Boulder is a true pit-bull ambassador,
exemplifying the best qualities of the
breed. He is 3 years old and is intelligent
and friendly with a strong desire to please.
He is available for adoption today at YHS.
Last week I asked for feedback on an important and controversial issue - should a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for pit-bulls be considered as a strategy for ensuring our community remains among the safest in the nation for companion animals.
YHS defines pit-bull as the American pit-bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and any crosses of these three breeds.

The question was prompted by both my love for pit-bulls and these facts: pit-bulls account for 51 percent of all dogs rescued and 47 percent of all dogs euthanized at YHS. Nation-wide, pit-bulls represent 60 percent of all dogs euthanized; 22 percent of all dogs abused or neglected; 46 percent of all dogs that injure humans; 51 percent of all dogs that attack other animals; and virtually all dogs impounded in dog-fighting cases.

These facts are all the more startling when you consider pit-bulls and all pit-bull mixes combined represent only about 4 percent of the total dog population. [Data Source: ANIMAL PEOPLE]

Here are the results YHS received to the ordinance question. There were 82 responses to the query; and 82 percent (67) favored a mandatory pit-bull spay/neuter ordinance in our community.

Twenty-one percent (17) felt mandatory spay/neuter for all dogs and cats should be required. Four people favored banning pit-bulls altogether, while two people feared mandatory spay/neuter would lead to pit-bull extinction. While this is not a likely outcome, it could easily be addressed with a sunset clause.

One person seriously felt mandatory spay/neuter is an attempt by YHS to corner a lucrative pit-bull market. Two people felt mandatory spay/neuter ordinances infringed on their American freedoms, even though courts across the U.S. have consistently upheld a community's right to regulate the breeding of animals considered problematic.

Four people felt mandatory spay/neuter is discriminatory, but they were equally divided - two stating an ordinance should include all dogs and cats, while the other two opposed any spay/neuter ordinance at all. All four perhaps overlooked the prejudice currently practiced against pit-bulls and the fact that a targeted spay/neuter ordinance could help alleviate that suffering.

Three people felt education is a better approach than legislation. However, humane organizations have been promoting the virtues of pit-bulls for nearly 30 years with no metric pertaining to pit-bulls improving in all that time.

Four people felt spay/neuter ordinances are ineffective. They failed to notice the success in San Francisco where in just 8 years there was a 49 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls impounded, a 23 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls euthanized and an 81 percent decline in the number of pit-bulls involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks.

Several thoughtful responses suggested an ordinance should include adequate enforcement provisions and stiff penalties, funding to help subsidize low-cost spay/neuter and humane education and breeding permits for responsible breeders.

Two responders did not understand that all YHS animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption, meaning YHS does not contribute to or profit from this problem. In fact, YHS invests more than $400 into every animal adopted and never fully recoups those costs. YHS also performs a behavioral assessment on every pit-bull prior to placing them up for adoption.

In addition, per state law, owners of unaltered pets are issued a spay/neuter voucher when claiming a pet from the YHS Lost & Found Center. Sadly, only 50 percent of those vouchers are redeemed, further evidence, perhaps, that a mandatory ordinance is indeed needed.

YHS will submit this data to local officials asking that a committee be formed to help draft an ordinance that reflects our community's exemplary humane standards for animal welfare. Thank you all who participated in this survey.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Is mandatory spay/neuter of pit bulls a humane solution for this breed?

There are more pit bulls dying in US
shelters than any other dog breed.
I am proud to say that over the course of my career I may have been responsible for placing more pit bulls into loving homes than any other person in the United States. I am appalled by the fact that no dog breed in history encounters more misunderstanding and vilification than the pit bull; a breed I define as the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and any crosses of these three. I admire these animals for their tenacious athletic ability, loyalty, intelligence, and high-energy.

Having said that, I have to ask, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Consider these facts: The increase in dogs killed in U.S. shelters in 2011 was entirely attributable to an increase of 120,000 pit bull terriers killed. The total number of pit bulls killed rose to 930,300; the highest number in three years and representing 60 percent of all dogs killed in U.S. shelters.

Although pit bulls account for only 3.3 percent of the U.S. dog population, according to a 2011 Animal People survey, they represent 29 percent of all dogs surrendered nationally to shelters or impounded by animal control. This is a 23 percent increase since 2003.

However, pit bulls account for a whopping 51 percent (1,324) of all dogs (2,595) rescued by the Yavapai Humane Society in 2012, and 47 percent (51) of all the homeless dogs (107) euthanized that year.

During their lives, pit bulls are more often displaced than any other breed. Pit bulls are typically surrendered to shelters by their primary caretaker, but on average, each surrendered pit bull had three primary caretakers in just the preceding 18 months. Pit bulls also account for 22 percent of all dogs impounded for abuse and neglect; 46 percent of all dogs impounded for injuring humans; 51 percent of all dogs impounded for attacking other animals; and virtually all dogs impounded in dog fighting cases.

Pit bulls are adopted in greater numbers across the U.S. than any other breed. Still the volume arriving at shelters is so high that despite intensive national promotions by organizations like Best Friends Animal Society, the ASPCA, the American Humane Association, and the Maddie's Fund, the rate at which pit bulls are killed in shelters only fell from 93 percent ten years ago to 89.5 percent today. Even Los Angeles Animal Services, which adopts more pit bulls than any agency in the U.S., kills about 40 percent of all the pit bulls they rescue, and has reported increases in pit bull intakes every year since 2008.

Is there a way to end this disproportionate killing? Three U.S. communities have tried two different solutions. San Francisco, Denver and Miami each enacted breed-specific legislation. San Francisco requires pit bulls to be sterilized; Denver and Miami prohibit pit bulls within city limits. The latter seems onerous, if not unconstitutional; the former, however, may be a humane solution worthy of consideration.

Cumulatively, San Francisco, Denver and Miami kill about 40 percent fewer dogs of any breed than the U.S. national average. A comparison of San Francisco and Ontario, Canada is especially interesting. Ontario banned all pit bulls at the same time San Francisco mandated sterilization. Seven years later, the reduction in pit bulls is almost identical.

As a humane strategy for ensuring our community remains one of the safest in the nation for companion animals, should we consider mandatory sterilization of pit bulls, a breed whose offspring are at the greatest risk for being abused, killed or shuffled from home to home before being abandoned at a shelter? Please, let me know what you think at or call 445-2666, ext. 21.

All national data obtained from ANIMAL PEOPLE.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

YHS to be featured in national magazine

Animal Sheltering magazine is considered the gold standard for reliable information for people who care about the animals in their community - from humane society directors and city animal control managers to kennel staff, volunteers, and private individuals working as activists, breed rescuers, wildlife rehabbers, veterinarians, and more.

One of the purposes of Animal Sheltering magazine is to feature innovative animal shelters that are new, renovated, updated, or expanded, focusing specifically on aspects of the design and engineering that makes life better for the animals - as well as more pleasant for staff, volunteers, and visitors.

James Baker, a reporter with Animal Sheltering, is responsible for a feature called The Build-Out in each publication. Having heard about many YHS shelter enhancements over the past several years, he contacted us saying YHS "sounds like the perfect story for The Build-Out feature in Sept/Aug issue."

YHS has central HVAC
While YHS appreciates the national attention we receive for our innovative, life-saving programs, we are especially grateful to our local community for your support in making these improvements possible. Here is just a small list of accomplishments made possible by YHS supporters that may be featured in the upcoming Animal Sheltering magazine:

• The YHS Pet Adoption Center is now climate-controlled, thanks to a newly installed central HVAC system.

• All YHS animals have their own beds, private kennels or cages (cats have condos), piped-in music, and daily enrichment exercises.

• An outdoor Enrichment Kennel facility that helps housetrain dogs and provides training and holding space for animals.
Enrichment Facility

• Commercial laundry equipment ensures YHS is able to provide the cleanest blankets and towels to our animals every day.

• Solar power helped reduce utility costs by 50 percent, providing more money for direct animal needs.

• A new digital X-ray machine allows YHS Medical Team to diagnose and rehabilitate greater numbers of sick and injured animals.

• Water-retention barrels are being installed to help beautify YHS landscaping.

• The YHS Cat Facility to care for sick and injured homeless cats, and momma cats and their kittens.

All of these amenities are the result of gifts, donations and grants that demonstrate our community's unflappable commitment to making YHS the best it can be; a truly happy place for man and beast.

One of the premier amenities at YHS is the Buffy Pence Dog Park; named in memory of the beloved pet of Don and Shirl Pence - the benefactors who made the YHS dog park a reality. The park was recently reconfigured and enlarged with a net result that YHS now has two large dog parks where there used to be just one.

The fabulous YHS volunteer dog walkers use the dog park to ensure all our dogs have ample exercise and enrichment activities every day. The park provides a great place for dogs wanting to play fetch, catch Frisbees or just run around exploring. The park also serves as a friendly space where potential adopters get acquainted with prospective pets before actually adopting. The YHS dog behaviorist also uses this space for training dogs and teaching dog walkers to do likewise.

The only deficit this wonderful area has is a lack of shade; and with summer warming up this is a real concern. YHS would like to install artistic canopies that provide sun shade and UV protection for our animals, guests and volunteers. Shade will maximize the usefulness of the parks during the dog days of summer; making them more enjoyable.

YHS is gathering estimates for this enhancement now; if you would like to help, please send your donation to YHS at 1625 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott AZ 86301.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Foxtails are serious threat to your pets

Foxtails are a deadly threat to our pets
Your pet has a deadly enemy that comes in the form of several species of grassy weeds found throughout the western United States. These weeds grow rapidly during the winter/spring rains, and then dry out in the summer months. As the grasses mature, a seed forms at the top of the stalk resembling a foxtail. As foxtail grasses dry out, the seeds detach easily and stick readily to clothing and fur.

Foxtails can enter a dog's body in a variety of ways and once in they work like an animated fishhook: the seed moves steadily inward, and because of tiny barbs, it cannot back out. It's most common for a foxtail to enter a dog's body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, genitals, and eyes. One veterinarian reported a foxtail found in a dog's lung had initially entered through the dog's paw. Foxtails are tenacious and deadly.

Foxtails are relatively small, so detecting them after they enter a dog's body can be difficult. Veterinarians usually rely on telltale symptoms such as head-shaking, paw licking, swellings on the body, or sudden and continuous sneezing. Foxtails in the ears, nose and eyes are serious and can ultimately be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

When a foxtail is inhaled and lodged in the nasal cavity, a dog will sneeze repeatedly and violently, sometimes even banging his nose on the floor with each sneeze in a futile attempt to dislodge the seed. It is often possible for a veterinarian to sedate the animal, locate the seed with an otoscope and remove it using special forceps - provided the animal is brought in when symptoms first appear.

When a foxtail is lodged in the paw or under the coat, a lump will usually form that is painful to touch. Depending on how deep the foxtail has traveled it can usually be removed surgically.

When a foxtail gets into a dog's eye, the dog will usually paw the eye, which will water. When you see a foxtail under the eyelid, don't try to remove it yourself. There's a good chance you may not get it all. Keep your dog from pawing the eye and get him to a veterinarian immediately, preferably a veterinary opthomologist.

When your dog gets a foxtail in an ear, he will usually shake his head violently. Again, whenever you suspect a foxtail, get your dog to a veterinarian immediately. The best way to handle foxtail problems is to prevent them or treat them early.

Whenever possible avoid foxtail infested areas - especially during the dry season. After a romp through tall, mature grass follow these steps:

• Thoroughly brush and inspect your dog's coat. Run your hands over his coat looking for foxtails. Dogs with long hair are particularly susceptible to foxtails.

• Look into your dog's ears. If your dog has floppy ears, lift each ear and inspect.

• Examine your dog's paws (in-between toes and paw pads), neck (under the collar), tail/anus, and under "armpit" areas. Remove any foxtails sitting on the fur.

• If you believe your dog has a foxtail lodged somewhere in his body get him to a veterinarian immediately. The longer you wait, the deeper the foxtail will travel and the more damage it will do, and the more difficult and costly it will be to treat.

If you are new to Arizona and you're not sure what a foxtail looks like, ask fellow dog people or your veterinarian to show you. Learn to recognize foxtails and avoid them! Foxtail danger in our parks and neighborhoods can be greatly reduced by simply mowing the grass regularly, especially in the late spring. Mowing cuts off the foxtail grass before the deadly seed forms.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society.  He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Sustaining the no-kill vision

The Yavapai Humane Society has achieved
the no-kill dream.  Can it be sustained? 
Only in a community willing to help!
In July 2010, the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) embraced a no-kill ethic. We defined that ethic as applying the same criteria when deciding a homeless animal's fate that a loving owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet. That is, healthy and treatable animals would not be killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them.

With a 95 percent live release rate in 2012 and a 97 percent live release rate YTD for 2013, it could be argued that YHS has achieved its no-kill goal. The challenge now is sustaining it. Google dictionary defines "sustaining" as strengthening or supporting.

It is important to understand the life affirming momentum occurring at YHS. In nearly every community in every state in the Union, killing is the primary method employed to control pet overpopulation. In just three short years our community has become a national model for a better way, a way of compassion through strategic planning.

Last week I shared the news concerning the success of the recent Walk for the Animals. It is remarkable how our community came together, for one of the most fun family events of the year, and raised over $41,000 to help sustain YHS' many life saving no-kill programs.

This week YHS moved into a newly completed facility dedicated to sustaining quality medical care for our community's sick and injured homeless cats. The facility was made possible thanks to the generosity of the MCS Charitable Foundation, the PETCO Foundation, Pat and Nancy O'Brien, Yavapai County, the City of Prescott, the Town of Prescott Valley, Max Fogleman and Kathy Coleman, and the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe.

Also, this week, we are installing a climate controlled HVAC system throughout our Pet Adoption Center. This amazing enhancement was made possible thanks to the compassionate generosity of the Harold James Family Trust.

Next on the YHS drawing board is a canine hospital to care for our community's lost and homeless sick and injured dogs. We are in the design phase and should have a budget for this project within 30 days. It is my hope that there is the same public support for our canine friends as there is for our felines, so we have no delay in building this much-needed facility. Naming rights are available to anyone willing to fund a substantial portion of the construction cost.

These new facilities are designed to help ensure our community never returns to the barbaric practice of killing homeless animals simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them. Achieving no-kill is not an Olympic moment; it is an arduous marathon. We've proven it can be achieved, the question now is can it be sustained?

Imagine if everyone reading this article donated $1 a day or $30 a month to YHS. YHS could then sustain its many no-kill programs, each designed to save animals' lives, fight cruelty and rescue homeless animals.

It's easy to become a YHS sustaining partner when you join the PAWS (Planned Automatic Withdrawal Service) program. An automatic monthly donation of your choice comes to YHS and our secure system automatically processes it for you. You choose a tax deductible amount that is comfortable, and you can change or cancel your participation at any time.

Simply go to to designate your gift; check the box that says, "Repeat this donation every month" and enter how many months you want to repeat your tax deductible gift. If you have questions give us a call at 445-2666 ext. 21. Together we can sustain both our no-kill ethic and our place among the safest communities in the nation for our pets.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

YHS Walk for the Animals will save many lives

Ed Boks thanking the 455 walkers
who helped raise over $41,000!
The 2nd annual Yavapai Humane Society Walk for the Animals was a huge success. The event this past Saturday at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University was attended by over 450 registered walkers; many of whom brought their dogs, family, friends and neighbors. That's 133 more registered walkers than last year.

I want to thank all the walkers and their respective supporters, and our many sponsors for helping the Yavapai Humane Society exceed this year's $40,000 goal. Together we raised $41,550; which is a 53 percent increase over last year's $27,000. This money will help fund the many life saving programs of the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS).

In many ways, the YHS Walk for the Animals is a celebration of our community's love for our companion animals. In recent years the quad-city region has been recognized as one of the three safest communities in the United States for pets; and this is evidenced by the generous community support YHS receives.

In addition to our wonderful walkers, this year's Walk was also supported by our sponsors, for whom we are very thankful. Together we made this amazing community celebration not only possible, but a colossal hit.

When looking for products or services please consider YHS sponsors and join us in thanking them for helping our community's neediest animals.

We anticipate this annual celebration to grow in both scope and participation each year. This year the Walk expanded to include an elevated stage with a powerful sound system enabling everyone to hear the sweet tones and tunes of Robin Mills and the Bittersweet Band as they serenaded the walkers into the homestretch. (Robin is the lead veterinary technician at the YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic.)

A massage booth was available for walkers needing to loosen up before or after the Walk; and walkers received a continental breakfast with coffee, homemade muffins,  fresh fruit, smoothies, and bottled water provided by our many sponsors.  The YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness veterinarian, Dr. Jenni Redmon, and her staff provided microchips and spay/neuter advice.

YHS is the largest animal rescue organization in northern Arizona, saving nearly 4,000 lost and homeless pets every year. Thanks to the support of our community we are maintaining an impressive 97 percent Live Release Rate.

If you intended to make a donation in this year's Walk for the Animals but neglected to do so, you can still join the celebration by making your donation today at

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

'Walk for the Animals' is a great way to give back

Sign up to support YHS at this link.
There's only 3 weeks left until Yavapai Humane Society's second annual Walk for the Animals and I'm sure you've been anxiously awaiting an update. As of yesterday, more than 285 people have registered to walk and these folks have raised more than $19,000! This year our goal is 500 walkers and $40,000, so we are well within reach, especially with three weeks to go.
The Walk for the Animals will take place on Saturday, April 20, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. There will be two courses, a 5k and a 1k, to accommodate all ages, leg heights and energy levels. You can run, walk or jog at your own pace. The road is completely paved so child strollers, dog strollers and wheelchairs can roll easily. The walk is not timed so you can even enjoy a leisurely stroll.

To register, simply visit, where you can register online as a Walker, Youth Walker (11-17), or, for the folks who love animals but not exercise, a Lazy Dog. Registration is only $25 ($20 for Youth Walkers). Children 10 and under are welcome to walk free with a registered walker. Registrants receive a free T-shirt and a "doggie bag" full of goodies, including a half-day of doggy day care from Hassayampa Canine Resort and Spa.

Every walker gets a personal fundraising page that they can personalize with photos, videos and text and then email to their contacts. Many walkers have been surprised by the outpouring of support from their friends and families.

Jinger Cutting, a local realtor with Windermere Real Estate, is currently the top fundraising walker. "I was invited by someone in the office to contribute but the email also said we could walk. I sent it out on Facebook and email and was overwhelmed by the response," Cutter said.

This year's Walk also has the addition of Fundraising Prizes. There are smaller prizes like a water bottle or dog bandana all the way up to the ThousHOUND Club, for walkers who raise more than $1,000. The most popular prize by far is the opportunity to name a YHS dog or cat and many people have made raising $100 their goal for this very reason!

Dogs are welcome to walk with their owners. Dogs must be currently licensed, vaccinated, and on a leash no more than 6 feet in length in keeping with Prescott's leash law. Walk officials reserve the right to refuse entry to any dog whose behavior could be dangerous to others. Please use good judgment regarding the temperament of your pet so the event will be safe and enjoyable for everyone.

All proceeds from the event will go to helping the animals at the Yavapai Humane Society. YHS is the largest animal shelter in Northern Arizona, rescuing more than 3,700 lost, homeless, abused and neglected pets every year. YHS provides many life saving services and programs which have resulted in YHS ranking as the safest animal shelter in Arizona by the nation's leading animal shelter watchdog and the third-safest community in the nation!

YHS's "Live Release Rate" is the highest in Arizona and among the highest in the nation at 97 percent.

Sign up today at

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yavapai Humane Society offering low-cost pet wellness treatments for a limited time

Vaccinate your dog against
rattlesnake bites any Friday
at the YHS Wellness Clinic 
for just $16. No appointment
necessary. Call 771-0547 for
more information.
The Yavapai Humane Society announces three pet wellness campaigns: a cat FeLV/FIV test special, a pediatric spay/neuter special, and rattlesnake vaccinations.  
Cat Special: Among all causes of lethal feline disease, none are taken more seriously by the Yavapai Humane Society than feline leukemia (FeLV) and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Undetected, either virus is capable of causing your cat's premature death. It is estimated that up to 4 percent of the 83 million cats in the United States harbor one or both of these viruses. 

To help reduce these diseases, the YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic is offering a special promotion through the month of June. Your cat(s) can be tested for both diseases and vaccinated against FeLV on any Friday. The combo test is only $25 and the FeLV vaccination is just $25. 

If your cat tests positive for one of these viruses, it is not necessarily a death sentence. In fact, you should have your cat retested in three months, because the original test sometimes yields a false positive. Once you know your cat is not infected, the best remedy against FeLV is preventative. Please get your cat vaccinated. There is no vaccine against FIV, but knowing if your cat is infected will assist in how you care for him.

Pediatric Spay/Neuter Special: The YHS Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic is also offering $5 off every pediatric spay or neuter surgery scheduled through the end of June for pets five months old or younger.

Pediatric spay/neuter has been a subject of ongoing debate among some veterinarians - a debate fraught with misinformation, misconceptions and high emotions. Although millions of pediatric surgeries have been successfully performed over decades, some veterinarians still believe conclusive evidence for the practice is wanting.

However, many studies have been conducted that confirm that pediatric spay/neuter is safe and effective in both the short and long term.

In fact, as early as 1993, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) published surgical and anesthetic protocols for safely spaying or neutering animals as young as 6 weeks of age.

Some of the many advantages of pediatric spay/neuter: It is less physiologically stressful; requires only 2-4 hours fasting to prevent hypoglycemia; animals awake and are ambulatory usually within an hour; fewer perioperative complications; pyometra is easily prevented; prevents accidental pregnancies and the development of mammary gland tumors later in life.

Pediatric spay/neuter is an essential component of a comprehensive community strategy to end the killing of homeless animals. Make your appointment today!

Rattlesnake vaccinations: Due to popular demand, YHS is adding rattlesnake vaccinations to our core vaccine arsenal to help protect dogs exposed to rattlesnakes. This is especially important for active dog owners who love to hike or camp with their companion pets. The $16 vaccine can help dogs survive and recover more quickly from rattlesnake bites. Keep in mind, veterinary treatment for unvaccinated dogs suffering from a rattlesnake bite can quickly exceed $1,500.

You can get your dog(s) all their wellness vaccinations any Friday at the YHS Wellness Clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for just $16 each. No appointment necessary on Fridays.

The Yavapai Humane Society Spay/Neuter & Wellness Clinic is located at 2989 Centerpointe East in Prescott. Call 771-0547 or visit for more information or to schedule a spay/neuter appointment for your pet.

Ed Boks is the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society. He can be reached at or by calling 445-2666, ext. 21.