MSPCA-Angell Q&A

Many of our supporters, like you, have questions about the MSPCA-Angell and we'd like to help answer them! We invite you to submit your questions to us. Our President, Carter Luke, or other representatives will answer the top questions.

Please submit your questions below. Only questions with a general appeal will be answered (no personal or pet-specific questions, please). The top three questions will be selected and answers will appear on this page each month.

Questions & Answers

Q) There are some great ads on TV about helping homeless and abused animals. How much money does the MSPCA-Angell get from those ads or from your parent organization?

A) It’s a great question with a very important answer: 

There is no parent organization! There are no “local chapters.” And we receive no money from those ads. Actually we receive no contributions from other animal organizations at all. We do have many friends and colleagues in the animal welfare world from all over the globe, and we deeply respect their efforts to help animals everywhere. But there is no “National” or “American” or “United States” humane organization or SPCA that oversees the work of other organizations. We know that sometimes names of organizations can be confusing, and some of those organizations may be worthy of your support. But the MSPCA-Angell is an independent non-profit charity, and if you believe in our mission and how hard and effectively we work to help improve animals’ well-being, we would appreciate you being part of our family of donors and volunteers. -Response provided by Carter Luke, President, MSPCA-Angell

Q) When I donate money to you, how much of it really goes to care directly for animals?

A) At the MSPCA-Angell, we work very hard to control all administrative costs and put as much of every donor dollar as possible into direct services for animals. The numbers tell the story. 86 cents of every dollar we receive goes to animal programs. For an organization that has a lot of buildings and a lot of equipment (medical, vehicles, animal housing, etc.) that’s quite high. And many members of our management staff do hands-on work. We are proud to be lean… It’s a hallmark of the MSPCA-Angell. -Response provided by Carter Luke, President, MSPCA-Angell

Q) Is the MSPCA-Angell a "no-kill" shelter? If not, how long do you keep animals for adoption before they are euthanized?

A) All of the MSPCA Animal Care & Adoption Centers are open admission, which means we will never turn an animal away that needs our help, regardless of age, health, or behavior.  In 2009, just over 24,000 animals were brought to us that had no place else to go, and almost 8,000 so far in 2010. When cages or kennels at “no-kill” shelters are full, they typically will turn animals away or put them on a waiting list because of lack of space. They also can be selective about what animals they do accept, accepting only the most adoptable, i.e. young, healthy, and/or breeds that are in high demand. Open admission adoption centers, like ours, take in and care for many of those animals turned away.

The MSPCA works tirelessly to place as many animals as possible into responsible and permanent homes. Through our ever growing foster care, low-income spay/neuter, and education programs, our adoptions are increasing every year.

There is absolutely no time limit that determines an animal’s stay with us. Each animal is evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that he/she is healthy, comfortable, and continues to adapt to the adoption center environment. It is not unusual for us to have an animal stay with us for several months or even longer until a responsible and loving home can be found. 

It’s important to understand that most shelters do the best they can, regardless of their philosophy, to help the incredible number of homeless animals that exist. The MSPCA firmly believes that every animal deserves a chance and not one should ever be turned away.

Q) How many animals do you take in weekly on average?

A) The MSPCA's Animal Care and Adoption Centers care for thousands of animals annually. Throughout the year, there are several variables that increase or decrease the number of surrendered animals including the extremely busy feline breeding months. During the winter months, our MSPCA adoption centers receive an average of 200-240 surrendered animals each week. Starting each Spring and continuing through the Fall months, the number of animals surrendered to our care doubles to an average of 450-500 homeless pets each week. The majority of the animals surrendered to us during these months are cats and kittens. Typically cats go into heat as the weather becomes warmer and they are prolific breeders - one female cat is capable of having up to four litters every year. This is one reason why the MSPCA feels so strongly that cats are spayed or neutered as early as possible. These surgeries, which we also offer to low-income owners at a reduced rate through our Spay/Neuter Assistance Program, will prevent more kittens from being born and allow us to focus on finding responsible and loving homes for the thousands of felines that are already in our care waiting for adoption. -Response provided by Jean Weber, Director of Animal Protection

Q) Will you recommend the safest and best flea and tick control medication for dogs and for cats? With the recent alert of health problems attributable to various flea and tick control products, it is confusing to know what is safe and effective to use...

A) All medications can have side-effect and toxicities. The benefit of a medication needs to outweigh the possible toxicity or side-effects that the medication can cause, and the danger of the illness being treated also needs to be figured into the decision of whether to use a certain medication. Flea and tick infestations are often considered nuisance problems rather than significant illnesses, so even small complications from those medications can seem like too much. Unfortunately, in this area of the country, fleas and ticks in particular can spread diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichial diseases, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, etc.) which can be quite dangerous so the perception that flea and tick infestations are just a nuisance is incorrect. We see complications associated with topical flea and tick medications most commonly when 1) dog medications are given to cats, 2) with over the counter flea and tick medications, 3) or when the dose for a heavier animal is given to a smaller animal. We find that Frontline Plus and Advantix are both quite effective and safe with dogs. The Preventic collar is very effective at preventing and killing ticks in dogs and lasts for up to 3 months. For cats we suggest Frontline Plus or Advantage. Although we sell other flea and tick medications, these medications seem to be the ones most frequently prescribed in our hospital. The most important thing to remember is to follow the directions on the box and to give the right medication to the right animal if you have multiple pets. -Response provided by Kiko Bracker, Angell Emergency/Critical Care Veterinarian

Q) I would love to know where I can take animal first aid and CPR!

A) The American Red Cross offers some information about animal first aid on their web site (www.redcross.org). You can search ‘animal CPR’ at their search tab to access that information. They will refer you to your local chapter of the Red Cross for CPR courses which sometimes are offered. -Response provided by Kiko Bracker, Angell Emergency/Critical Care Veterinarian

Q) Is there ANY WAY to get rid of the skunk smell after a pet has been sprayed? Do I have to shave all of their hair off?

A) Skunk funk. Yuck. Hopefully you don’t live on my street. It’s amazing how persistent and awful that smell can be. An oft suggested concoction is: 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide (3%), ¼ cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon liquid soap (dish soap). (Safety note: don't leave this concoction in a closed container and make sure you wear old clothes during this process.) Mix them together and then rub on the hair like shampoo. Leave on for 10 minutes and then rinse. Avoid contact with the eyes. Shaving the hair may help, but that seems a bit extreme and usually is not done. I don’t think this recipe has much science behind it but certainly has some momentum on the web. If it even reduces the smell a bit, I’d consider it a success. -Response provided by Kiko Bracker, Angell Emergency/Critical Care Veterinarian

Q) I am interested in working with the MSPCA in the future. I will be going into college in another year. What fields would you recommend I take? Any colleges that you recommend? I don't want to be a vet, but want to work with abuse prevention and animal care.

A) The answer to this question really depends on specifically what type of job(s) you might consider. It is great to think about this now; it gives you a lot of time in the next few years to volunteer with organizations, such as the MSPCA, and explore animal-related work to see what interests you most. You can even scan through the job listing on our website to get ideas. We have several jobs at the MSPCA in which you might be interested and I have tried to match those with some very basic suggestions for related courses.

The MSPCA has a law enforcement department with officers who enforce cruelty laws across the state. Courses in criminal justice may be helpful if you were to pursue this career path. The staff in our adoption centers take care of a wide variety of animals every day. In addition to animal science/behavior courses, for this job you may also want to investigate communications coursework, as a big part of this job is working with people.  We also have a humane educator who runs the summer camp in Methuen and education programs for kids (and adults); a job for which education courses would clearly be important. Lastly, in my job I advocate for stronger animal protection laws and policies.  And while I have a law degree, I would say that for undergraduate work, political science courses would be ideal.

Check to see if the schools you are considering have any special animal courses, too, or perhaps allow you to tailor your major to an animal-related field if they don’t have a pre-existing major track. However, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of volunteering, completing internships, or working for an animal or other organization where you can obtain experience during your school year and/or summers. You will learn how you want to best help animals when you graduate, obtain some skills, add to your resume, and meet a lot of people who can help guide you along the way. Good luck! -Response provided by Kara Holmquist, Director of Advocacy, MSPCA