VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION WEEK 2021
Day 6, April 23

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia


Every single animal reacts to being at our shelter in a different way. Every one. But how can each individual need be addressed? SPCA Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman, among other tasks, heads up the team responsible for determining (to the best of our ability) how to help each animal adapt to shelter life in the best way possible. Thousands of animals are admitted to the SPCA year after year, so it’s not a stretch to understand what a monumental task this is, and why we so heavily rely on volunteers to help these animals. Every adoption success story at the SPCA has at least one volunteer who helped write that story, constantly giving time, energy, and especially love to these animals from what seems to be an endless supply within themselves.

From Miranda: “The volunteers have allowed us to continue to provide quality care and enrichment to the animals at the SPCA. Their dedication to and love for our sheltered animals is evident in the time they spend ensuring our animals experience positive behavioral welfare while they wait to meet their adopting family.”

In these photos, courtesy of Communications Manager Bethany Kloc, we see some of our volunteer team members at work, enriching the lives of our animals! You’ll see Miranda with Cindy, Red, and Ken (who is doing amazing work trying to teach Little Red how to be a big, brave girl!), and Gary, helping Callie overcome her fears by softly and gently reading aloud to her. You’ll also see feline specialist volunteer Cary with kitty Tommy, packed up to be taken to the airport so he could fly home (full story: https://YourSPCA.org/TommyReunion2020/)!

These photos are representative of the work done by our volunteers with all the animals in our care. From bunnies to turtles to farm animals and reptiles, all our animals receiving kind, loving words and touch (when appropriate) every day, as our caring volunteers work to enrich their stay at our SPCA.







-Gina Lattuca, SPCA Chief Communications Officer

DOMESTIC MALE RATS ADDED TO NEUTER LIST AT SPCA SERVING ERIE COUNTY

August 24, 2020
By: SPCA Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean; Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth; Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman 

The SPCA Serving Erie County is now neutering male rats prior to adoption. Neutering male rats can have several benefits that result in improved welfare for the rats, their cagemates, and their humans.

Males can be neutered as early as eight to 12 weeks of age. A neuter is a less- risky procedure than a spay (ovariohysterectomy) for females, which is why the SPCA is limiting sterilization surgeries to males.

Benefits of neutering male rats include the following:

-The risk for testicular cancer is eliminated after neutering. Reproductive cancers are very common in rats; neutering can potentially increase their lifespan. The greatest increase in average lifespan for male rats is associated with early neuter (eight to 12 weeks old).

-Neutered rats can be housed with female rats (spayed or intact) without the risk of impregnating the females. This increases their potential adoption opportunities as they are not restricted to housing with males only. (Research indicates that most males are sterile by one week post-neuter, although introductions to females may be safest after two weeks post-neuter to ensure the males have completely healed from the procedure and are no longer experiencing post-operative pain.)

-Neutered rats are significantly less likely to exhibit aggressive behavior toward their cage mates, behavior that may result in injury and/or death. At sexual maturity, due to increased testosterone, it is common for male rats to display increased aggressive behavior.

-It is also easier to introduce new rats to neutered rats than intact males who are more likely to attack “intruders” to their housing space. Introducing new rats to adult, intact males resulted in death for 21% of the introduced rats in one study* (Flannelly & Thor, 1978).

-Neutered males urine mark much less often than intact males. This can help keep their housing units cleaner than if they are urine marking more frequently.

-Neutered males are also more prosocial with humans and are easier to handle due to the decreased influence of hormones on their behavior. The risk of aggressive behavior toward humans is decreased with neutering.

With all the benefits above, there is one small downside:

-Neutered males are at a slightly higher risk of obesity, which is why we encourage a good quality diet and regular exercise and enrichment.

Given the evidence provided by research combined with the experience of the SPCA’s Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman and Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean, we can confidently say that neutering male rats increases the welfare of each individual rat, their cage mates, and their human companions. Thus, in line with the SPCA Serving Erie County’s mission, we are now neutering all male rats prior to adoption. The adoption fee for domestic rats is $15.00, and this fee includes the males’ neuter surgeries.

Web references for information above include:

*http://www.ratbehavior.org/Neutering.htm

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/neutering-in-rats

https://ratcentral.com/should-i-neuter-my-male-rat/