Sarah Moore & Dr. Teri Kidd, Animal Protective League
Tuned into the community cats podcast. Ready. Let's go. Welcome to the Community Cat Podcast, I'm your host Stacey Lebaron I've been involved helping homeless Cath for over twenty years with the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society. The goal of this podcast is to expose you to amazing people who improving the lives of cats I. Hope these interviews we'll help you learn how you can turn your passion for cats into action. Today, we are speaking with two fantastic guests we have Sarah. Moore. Who is a clinic manager for the Animal Protective League Clinic and Dr Terry Kid who is a veterinarian there there I'd like to welcome you to the show. Thanks for having us. and Dr Kit to the show yourself. Thank you. So before we dive into the deep infrastructure, talking about the animal protectively, can you just share with me a little bit about why you became passionate for cats I come from a long line of Cat Lady. So. Maybe genetic. We've had cats my whole life. So. That's the simple answer that you have out there Dr Kid you have a follow up to why are you passionate about cats lions probably similar to Sarah's an I. Don't know that there was a long line, but I've definitely been into cats for many many years and I was pretty heavily involved in animal race where it became a veterinarian and then that kind of morphed into doing a lot of t NPR and then I got involved with a local shelter and decided that I needed to go back to school and get my veterinary degree. Because at that time, there weren't that many vets that seemed focused on shelter work and undoing trap neuter return. The cats are mention. So how did you learn about T VR? Well, I used to work at a food bank in Peoria and in the alley behind the food bank there was a colony of cats and I went down there one day and saw that somebody had had three kittens that she dropped looked on the run because they were scattered and I thought somebody needs to get these guys spayed and neutered, and this was back in eighty. Nine allocate didn't even exist yet and tr was not well known at all. So I got a couple of live traps I- skirted around the local animal control facility that was trying to catch them and take them in to have them killed and got started that way and when I was in DC I was good friends with Becky Robinson and Louise Holton. This was before they started ACA and so once they start alley cat allies, we traded stories and stuff, and just it was it was out of necessity more than anything it seems like our only. Option, back then when I got involved with the group, the Merrimack River Feline Rescue, society that Iran for quite a while I I got involved with them in ninety four but they started in nineteen ninety two and he had our was just seemed like it was the only option on the table for those that did not want to do euthanasia or trap and remove and kill, or however you want to phrase it but that was just not an option for the folks that were feeding the cats down on the waterfront and so it just seemed like. The one thing that just made a lot of sense and it seemed like that was our only option. So Dr King You are veteran I would say with regards to tm Vr when did you become a? Volume high quality, spay neuter veterinarian I graduated at school in two thousand thirteen and work with shelter medicine program over there as veterinary intern or twenty months, and in came here to AP L. in July of Twenty fifteen. So I've been doing it full time for about five years and over the last five years working in the clinic have you seen the results of your efforts in the community? Do you get a sense that you feel like the overpopulation waters are receding or do you still feel that sense of population pressure I'm GonNa let Sarah Answer that one because she's got all the statistics on what they were seeing with the local animal control because were. Over to Sarah. So I've been here since two, thousand six, the opened just a few months before I started and tracking numbers at our county animal control facility. So we'll keep an eye on intakes adoptions. Euthanasia's we have seen a seventy percent decrease in euthanasia's since we opened in two, thousand six, it goes down almost every year. There's a couple of years in there where it goes up a little bit but the impact that it's had on cat intakes and euthanasia's just immense. That's That's great. So you have good statistics and you do you just said you do pet cats as well as community cats return to field. Yes. about forty percent of the cats we do our return field cats tr, and then the rest are cats and we do dogs but not nearly as many as we do cats this question for Sarah to over the years. Did, you always offer services for owned cats or was there period of time that you only did return to fielder t and our cats before our clinic opened we had a t on our program that we did like one weekend a month, and that was only for community cats and one-star clinic opened. The goal was to do all animals. So owned animals, barrel cats shelter. Animals and the number of community cats that we've been doing was fairly low when we first opened but it increased quite a bit within the first year, and now it's a big portion of what we do and for our listeners Sarah, where's your clinic located in Springfield Illinois, and so we're GONNA go fast forward. Here's appreciate you giving the background and it sounds like. You have a wonderful history wonderful tradition they at your clinic and I wanNA apply both of you for your heart efforts on everything that you're doing for community cats. Let's fast forward a little bit and we're entering into world of corona virus and you know how did your or Asian and this'll be a question for for Sarah from a management side. What was the thought? About how your operations we're going to be when the corona virus hit. So maybe sort of take us back to the early winter when people were starting to talk about corona virus and what were the conversations like that you had at your clinic. So we hadn't really considered it to a whole lot until it became clear that a shutdown was quite imminent, basically the same week. Of, the shutdown I think we were already booked out a number of weeks on cat surgeries and even longer than that for doc is. So our big concern was, are we going to have to close entirely or will we be able to stay open for all patients? Will we only be able to see a specific patients may be patients based on need? So our goal was. To stay open and do as many surgeries as we could knowing that if we closed at all that, we may very well feel the impact of all the unwanted litters that would be warring. So I think it was a maybe a Friday when the governor announced that things would be shutting down but the governor did permit veterinary clinics to stay open in his shutdown order so. That Friday we knew that that we would be here the following Monday doing surgeries. So how did that get translated I know that some organizations that were able to stay open throughout the shutdown period they you know did fifty percent of their normal capacity did you operate as normal or how did you adjust your your protocols and policies in their everybody was talking me no PP and You know social distancing and all that comes up head. How did those protocols get adapted and changed and how did that impact your numbers? So about seven out of ten of our transports canceled. So every day we go to another county and pick up animals and bring them back here for surgery. A lot of those groups are run by people and so seventy percent of our transports canceled because we. Were booked out so far with individual appointments like people bringing their pets in we were able to fill most of those spots with people on a wait list, and so we had a few short days in March and April. We closed entirely from one day. But for the most part, we did regular days throughout the entire shutdown period the transport groups, things like curves I drop off and having people. Bay over the phone here we limited the number of people that can come in our lobby. We sanitized everything like clipboards and pens in between clients we walk masks we have our shelter building is next door. So we tried to limit how much back and forth between the buildings I think that's pretty much covers. It actually probably worked in your favor or to have two separate buildings to that sort. Of that the team's concept did did you adopt teams concept where you had you know one veterinarian with some technicians and the veteran working in separate shifts where you worried about a staff member getting corona virus, and then you know how that would impact the program overall we didn't really have the ability to do teams. So we all just came in every day hoax to God that nobody got Corona Virus We. Knew that if someone did that, we would all have to take a couple of weeks off. So urgently, everybody when he was in good health during time, we had a couple of shelter staff that had to stay home for a couple of weeks but nobody ended up being affected. So you were not at all affected by a staff member coming. Down with corona virus or even someone who brought a pet in that then ended up coming up positive. Did you ever hear anything like that Sarah? We didn't I only know one person who had a family member that got sick and one of the local nursing homes was responsible I think for a huge proportion of cases in our county. That makes sense. So very hot spot there was a hot spot that you didn't necessarily have in your community. Did you have any shortages with materials? Did you have to recycle supplies anything? Did you have a hard time accessing supplies that you need it? So for for a couple of months, we re sterilized gloves, which was a bit of a tedious process but in. Addition, to covering central shortages of both surgical exam gloves. It had the added benefit of being much more environmentally sound although none of the vets really like doing it. So I I don't know that anybody's really interested in the the whole process of how he did it. If they are when you give our contact information at the end, we can certainly share. But as far as drugs, we did not have a shortage I. I was a bit concerned for awhile about Ketamine availability, we never did run out and we were always able to get replacement as a new supply morphine kept coming through fine. We have cloth masks. So you know disposal mass were not an issue, and I, feel that we were pretty lucky not having any supply issues because that was always in the back of reminded at one point we were a little bit worried that we wouldn't be able to get isoflurane but none of that ever happened. Just. For Perspective Dr. Kit how many surgeries you do in a typical day? We do sixty to sixty five majority cats probably fifteen ish dogs and the rest cats and it fluctuates you know we'll have a set number on our schedule and people can walk in with up to barrels per person unscheduled. So if we have somebody not somebody but A. Group of people that come in, we have texter barrels, it can shoot her numbers up close to seventy, but usually it's around sixty and I wanted to touch on this topic. So we've heard about the concerns about big kitten explosion, lots of cats being out there as you are continuing to do your surgeries and working throughout these months where other facilities were. Usually totally shutdown. Were you saying a lot of pregnant cats. Absolutely we have our numbers from this year so. March April, and May of this year we had hundred and seventy nine pregnant cats that's out of a total of one thousand and fifty seven female cats and in those pregnancies were eight hundred and one vide. So. We prevented eight hundred and one birth. We will always prioritize if somebody calls and they're not on our schedule and we're book full but they say my cat is pregnant we will always prioritize getting them in and the same thing with Farrell's. Almost, all the ferals are either. Male we we see a cycle they start in heat in January, and then they we see our first pregnancy is like, February march and now we're seeing so many post-partum ones that we didn't get to I and and the results. The kittens are now popping in but will always always prioritize you know especially with Farrell's because we could be their only option and just you don't have to. Have the statistics but Dr, could you remember seeing you know a lot of complications that's always been a great worry about the the leave them out there theory which was shared at a national level, which was leave them out. Let them have their kittens and do their thing as if they're in a nice protective bubbled environment. But I am under the impression that there are a lot of risks. Out there and there's certainly a lotta complications for female cat having birth. Did you see some of those potential complications that would have happened if they had been allowed to go to term just not really complications but you know you get Farrell's in pretty poor body condition. So going through a pregnancy birth in nursing for however long the kittens live, you know if they make it to winning. Age is certainly harder on the female that would be the biggest thing. I would think would be an issue would be just if they're not in the greatest body condition to begin with, they've had litter after letter after letter, we do see a fair number of piles, not not a ton but pyo major certainly would be something they were hoping to avoid as well and by Spain these guys. Starting off any any possibility that they will have a pyo the biggest complication I would see was just be the influx of kittens have then and kittens the ones who make it because as we know, a lot of feral kittens don't make it with the Queen is unhealthy over if they're exposed to something either viral bacterial Predator in the wild. So just preventing those kittens from being warned to begin with I think is just incredibly important. Boulder, realistic that believes the future is feline for far too long cats have been treated like small dogs doctor. Angie knows that now more than ever our kitties rely on our ability to better understand them empowering parents all over the globe through our online courses, blogs, live talks and supplements available through her online store. Doctor Angie is here to help cats and cap parents no matter your location learn more about Dr. Angie Andrew Practice at www dot. Boulder Listrik, DOT COM, and don't forget to use the coupon. 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Here we're recording in the middle of the summer. Almost July has this. Is Seen any substantial impact with regards to intake Yeah it's been a weird year as the weekend. Before the shutdown became official, we were able to get a whole bunch of the animals out into foster to sort of ease the burden on our shelter staff. We weren't sure what things would bring how how many people would end up sick. So we were able to reduce the number of animals in our shelter by quite a bit that first weekend we switched to doing adoptions. Wait a minute. So we didn't have like the flow of clients in like we normally would and then things were kind of slow intake was kinda slow. I think that a lot of people just kind of assumed we were closed I think people were going out as much. So they weren't finding stray cats in finding kittens as much. We do pull annals in from other animal control facilities so that they're not euthanize there and I. Think a lot of the animal control facilities we work with had kind of limited hours as well. I RUN OUR BARN CAT program and I had a lot of doctors and not a lot of demand for us to take cats from other shelters like we normally do and now things are kind of getting back to normal. It's really ramped up our clinic is incredibly busy. Our shelter is incredibly busy. We're getting more phone calls. Than I think we've ever gotten in the thirteen years that I've been here. We're still having a lot of adoptions but burst tons and tons of Kittens, and it's just I think delayed a little bit this year not because the kittens are coming late but because people are coming late with the kittens. So we've talked about whether we're GONNA in animal sheltering arena have a new normal or are we going back to normal? And Sarah. What do you think you're seeing with regards to any future changes in animal sheltering I think things are or were hoping to get things back to normal we were on a a successful run there. I. Think with being able to continue to do as many space invaders as we do in seeing those euthanasia numbers at our local shelter go down. So I would hope that we don't have any like major long lasting changes once is all kinda blows over and from the standpoint of the clinic you are just focused on getting as many cats in the building and Are you scheduling way out or are you all caught? You had to wait list but you never had a specific weightless due to being closed but you may have had a wait list because others around you other clinics. If there were clinics around you that are that people might have used, you might have had greater demand has that sort of leveled off and how long do people have to wait to get into your clinic these days it's not leveled off at all. It just seems to stay about the same level of busy every week for the last several weeks at least. A. Lot of the private clinics were not seeing new patients, and so we were getting a lot of calls from people with new pets because a lot of people were getting new pets during the shutdown as well, and now that the clinics are back open their full and so we're continuing to get calls from people who can't get in with a regular vet clinic. This shelters that did have to cancel their Spanish transport there now backed up. So some of our groups that we work with about fifteen groups to do spay neuter transports. Some of them have got openings within a month or two some of them are booked out into September we are currently. Booking into the middle of August for cats and into November and December dots, which is the longtime to wait were spay or neuter for cats we are running into a lot of people who cats had kittens since they made the appointment or the cats are now pregnant and they don't want to bring them into get paid. So I think it's it's a pretty big backlog. It's pretty daunting, but we're just kind of coming in and plugging through every day. Wow. That's amazing. We're talking like seven weeks for cats and like five months for dogs on the wait list there that is incredible and I dare ask this question. Sarah. But what your no show rate. It some days? It's really bad some days. We may have fifteen people on the schedule in two of them show up other days like today every single person shows up what we have noticed historically as the springtime is are slower time. So may is always our lowest month of the year for whatever reason, and then once June hits, we get busier and busier until October and part of that is that there are just more no shows in the spring and so even though we're booked out really far the clients are more likely to show up this time of year we do reminder. Calls a couple of days in advance to try to reduce the no shows. But any of the no shows that we have are typically offset by the walk in feral cats we take. So today every single person on the schedule showed up plus thirteen or fourteen extra feral cats. So we're sitting close to seventy surgeries today when we originally booked at I, think fifty six. Yeah. That's the vicious cycle of running a spay neuter clinic is that you wanna be able to anticipate precisely how many cats you're gonNA show up and it never works out that way. Fortunately, our vets are very flexible. That's a beautiful beautiful thing. So Dr Kid before we finish up on time I, WanNa ask you what are your thoughts or advice for other veterinarians that may be working in high volume, high quality, spay neuter clinics. You know if we do encounter a second way, you know, what do we think about our Spain neuter services going forward as we have future challenges in being able to keep open and keep these services going why is it important for us to have stayed open through this whole process I think that veterinary medicine in general and stay neuter in particular are essential services and I think to have been advocating for. Shutdown coming from from our our leaders those with a lot of high volume standard knowledge during the midst of kittens season was short-sighted and reactionary, and rather than issuing a Fiat that everybody needs to shut down now and donate all of your supplies i. think it would have been much better if they had all said, we know that there are different circumstances around the country, and if you can stay open, we would love to be able to help you do that in the safest way possible and for those of you who do feel you need to close because you're innocent hotspot. Then here are some ideas on what you. Can do when you eventually re open but to just say that everybody and all high volumes being there to clinics or low binds vineyard clinics or shelters need to come to a screeching halt I. Think was absolutely the wrong thing to do. It would have been so much better if they had formed some kind of like group chat or not a database, but but like a I, don't know webinars or anything where everybody could be in communication with one another and share ideas like here's how we're sterilizing gloves. Here's where we're getting ketamine. Here's what you can do. You know here's where you can get some cloth masks that you. Don't have to take throwaway masseter needed elsewhere. So they could they could put out many good ideas of how people could stay open and not end up with this backlog of cats who are now needing sterilized and a bunch of kittens wouldn't the interim instead of just saying you all must shut down and it feels almost like they a guilt trip on people. If you didn't shut down, you were endangering the entire country. So I think that the lesson at the end of the day is if challenges come ahead of us in this whole process or in some other scenario, we have another pandemic with another disease of some kind. We just take a bit of a moment and look at the big picture as well as looking at your own backyard and really making a decision as an individual consulting, your own local Veterinary Association and whatever rules and regulations are out there around. Your. Business. But just make sure you're representing the interests of your own organization in your own community rather than listening necessarily just doing blindly what is being you know was being presented across the country. So I think that's a very excellent idea which is everybody has the right to their own opinion, but it's it's an opinion it's not a must do thing right? Absolutely. I couldn't agree more and you know when taking in the interests of everybody. Your own community and everything inches of the cats have to be thrown in there too I think the cats are a big factor in what we have to consider Great Point Grey Point Sarah. If folks are interested in finding out more about your clinic or the organization that you work with, how can people find you our website is AP L. Dash Shelter Dot Org, and we are also on facebook and twitter and instagram. But I'm. Not. Sure. What are handles are yeah I'm sure people can find you. Is there anything else you'd like to share with our listeners Sarah I would like to add that as I understand it there were some states that did not deem veterinary services as essential or that just weren't permitting Zviad Neuter as I understand it some of the national animal author organizations were in talks with our governor win it became clear that there would be. A shutdown and they were aiming to ensure that veterinary services would be deemed essential and without that, you know if the governor won't let you stay open, there's nothing you can do about it. So I think it's important in those states where those services were forced to close by the governor that they maybe have a plan for that. If this should happen again, that's an excellent idea and I did do a pop-up women are with Bryan. Curtis and he has a flow chart handout that helps organizations figure out whether or not. The state has deemed veterinary services as essential or not. They're sort of a flow chart that you can go through with the various different departments and we'll make sure we get that attached into the show notes so that then if you need to go through that to ensure, you're following the appropriate rules for your state. It's a great resource and We had a couple of organizations, do it as a practice and so they could see sort of how they ended up at the end. You know are they essential? Are They not essential? Can they do spay neuter? Can they not that kind of thing and it worked out really well so that's a great idea and obviously we WanNa make sure that folks are following the rules and but we also are learning we may have. To become advocates in many ways to ensure that, we're able to keep the spay neuter services going in our communities. So Dr Kid and Sarah I would really like to thank you so much for spending some time with me today and to share your experiences with regards to Corona Virus Dr Kid. Do you have any last thoughts you'd like to share with the listeners know. So it's been great chatting with you again keep on doing. What you're doing, I can't believe the amount of surgeries you're doing on a daily basis and the numbers that you have looking ahead of you but I know you will put your head down and you'll persevere I want to thank you again for agreeing to be guests on my show and I hope you on again, get in the future maybe Sarah can reach out to me when you're weightless is all caught up we'll have a party. Bring. That's it for this week. Please head over to apple podcasts and leave a review. We love to hear what you think. A five star review really helps others find the show. You can also join the conversation with listeners, caretakers and me on facebook and Instagram, and don't forget to hit follower subscribe on spotify apple podcast Google, podcast Youtube Stitcher, or wherever you listen to. You don't miss a single show. Thanks for listening and thank you for everything that you do to help create a safe and healthy world for cats.