Monday, August 22, 2016

Heroes Are Saving Thousands Of Animals In The Louisiana Floods.

By Christian Cotroneo
The Dodo

"Floodwaters have a way of hiding the devastation that lurks beneath, wrapping the terrible toll of a disaster - ruined homes, churches, business, lives - in a murky embrace.

But Josh Pettit has seen a lot of hope. Often, it floats.

Like when he was boating through a flood-ravaged area near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, this week, where neighborhoods once stood, and all he could see was dark, angry water for miles around.

But then he spotted a pair of eyes staring at him, wide-eyed with terror, from just above the surface.

A dog, treading wildly to stay above the water that was around 8-feet high.

"She was so tired," he tells The Dodo. "We got her in the boat and she was exhausted."

Pettit says the dog rested her head on his lap and cried and moaned.

That was Sadie. And since being hauled from the depths, she's been reunited with her owner.

But that wasn't the end for Pettit, who's been part of a group of locals plying the waters and helping any humans and animals they find.

Along the way, he and his friends are putting their lives at risk. But that hardly matters.

"I'm here because I'm a local and this is my community and local people," he says. "We take care of one another down here."

If you happen to be in Louisiana these days, you will likely hear that same refrain a lot. The nation's worst disaster since 2012's Hurricane Sandy has seen at least 13 people killed, and thousands more displaced.

6,900,000,000,000 gallons of water in a single week will do that.

But while around 20 parishes are underwater, heroes are also rising to the surface. People like Pettit. And Mike Anderson and Darrell Watson, who have been saving dogs, literally, from death's doorstep, since the disaster began.

People who see every life as precious and worth saving.

That's why animal rescue groups and individuals are scrambling in the region, working together to find housing for pets who had to be evacuated from shelters that no longer exist.

"We're helping to get the animals to come out, getting them fostered, getting them in homes, getting the adopted," Kathy Perra, director of Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), tells The Dodo.

From Instagram: "Pets can be the most comforting in difficult times. Happy that this shelter has allowed displaced people to take their fur babies with them. Pic by Deborah Burst #repost... "Talk about a picture worth a thousand words from the #LouisianaFlood. This is Celtic Center in Baton Rouge which houses thousands of people with flooded homes. Thousands bedding with their pets..."

Rescue groups are making sorties into flooded areas, hauling back cats, dogs and other pets from shelters that simply disappeared in the downpour. Thousands of pets, both lost and evacuated from shelters, are being hosted in temporary facilities.

"I don't know how to explain it," an emotional Perra explains. "It's just devastating out there. There are parishes that have lost 60 percent of their homes or more. The people who are displaced, they have animals.

"When they were evacuated, people weren't able to take their animals."

And pets, as we've seen time and time again, are key to bringing hope and healing in times of disaster.

"A lot of these areas don't typically flood," Perra explains. "There's a lot of people with no flood insurance. My heart just goes out to them. What do you do?"

"What do you do when you lose your family member? Your animal is your family member," she said. "People are frantically searching for them."

ARNO, along with groups like Villalobos Rescue Center, has been working tirelessly to haul animals out of Baton Rouge-area shelters, while pleading with the public to foster them.

"They're looking for homes anyway," Perra says. "And for those that are owned, they didn't come from shelters, every effort is going to be made to try to find their owners." 

The group is hardly the only rescue organization that has leapt into the breach. Many groups, as well as individuals are working together to help countless animals in desperate need.

"I'm just so amazed at the way people have stepped up," Perra adds. "We're getting such an outpouring from the public, from people who want to be volunteers."

And just as floodwaters have a way of hiding the horrors below, so too must the recede and reveal the long road to rebuilding that lies ahead.

Perra says the most important work is yet to come.

"Everyone's gung ho and ready to go now," she says. "But there's the aftermath. There's going to be a lot of rebuilding that has to go on. These shelters are devastated. They're either going to be completely nonexistent or very different.

"They need resources. They need people."'

Click here for the original story.

How is Your Veterinary Practice Business Doing?

By Carolyn C. Shadle, PH.D.
Veterinary Practice News

"Find out what factors you need to look into to determine your practice's success.

You might think that the answer to this question has to do with how up-to-date you are with the latest advances in veterinary medicine. Do you have the top-of-the-line equipment? Are your staff members trained in the latest specialties?

Clearly, your medical expertise is paramount. However, your practice is also a business, and it's important to assess it as a business, too.

Since the success of your veterinary practice starts with the effectiveness of your leadership, I shared, in a previous column, some strategies for assessing your practices' leadership. A broader assessment of the practice's business will provide insight that may be related to your leadership but also to management practices and team members' behavior.

Useful Data
Is the practice growing, shrinking or staying the same? The financial report on profit and loss provide answers. The number of staff growing or declining is also evidence of growth or decline. Other statistics that may be relevant include:

  • The number of unique clients served;
  • The number of new clients;
  • The number of client visits;
  • The number of products sold;
  • The revenue (and net) from product sales;
  • Changes in equipment
All of these factors can be useful to answer the question of your business' health.

Assess Your Team Members
Next to the leadership, the strength of any practice is dependent upon the skills and attitudes of the team members. The traditional performance appraisal, usually administered annually by a team member's supervisor, provices useful assessment. This includes the team members' performance as defined by their job descriptions against an accepted standard. It should also measure progress toward practice goals and employee's goals set at a previous assessment. This assessment is crucial for the progress of each employee and for the practice.

This traditional assessment is useful in measuring a team member's performance but it does not always give the leadership an appreciation of how the team members feel about being a part of the team. Do they sense inequities among team members? Do they feel overlooked? This input is more likely to come from an assessment of the leadership.

An issue that is important to assess is team cohesion. Individual assessments can review the extent to which one team member contributes to team cohesion, but the leadership needs to review input from all of the team members to get a sense of teamwork.

Assess Internal Communication
Effective leadership and team cohesiveness both depend on skilled communication. Assessing communication, as a separate focus, can be exceedingly useful. It can, however, be quite complex. The reason for this is because of the many directions in which communication travels. Can we measure upward communication, downward communication, horizontal communication, plus two additional directions, owtward and inward?

If any of your assessment strategies indicat that internal communication is an issue, you might consider bringing in an outside evaluator to do a communication audit. This can locate who is addressing whom and how effective the communication is. 

Get Feedback
How effective is your communication with your clients - or potential clients? This has to do with your advertising and face to the community through your website and social media. Do you know where your clients hear about you? Do you know that impression your presence makes?

One way that pet owners learn about veterinary practices is to go to the Yelp! website or other online review websites. Unfortunately, that is usually where disgruntled employees or clients go. Be sure you know what is being written about your practice, if anything.

A more effective process of gathering client feedback, and one that usually forestalls unhappy clients going to Yelp! is the use of a client survey. Much of that feedback provides insight to the behavior of the front desk staff or techs with whom they interact. It also reflects the leadership. Instead of relying on Yelp! or Google Alert, provide a survey instrument to clients as they exit the practice.

The La Jolla Veterinary Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., provides such a survey through VetStreet, which is tied to their electronic records. The Rhinebeck Animal Hospital in Rhinebeck, N.Y., even provides a survey on its website to solicit feedback at any time. Animal Hospital of Rowlett Veterinary Clinic in Rowlett, Texas, offers a $5 credit to be used on the client's next visit when the client completes its client satisfaction survey.

Cathy Levendoski, senior marketing director of Henry Schein Animal Health, told me that Henry Schein's Rapport tool also has a useful client survey that practices can use to obtain feedback from a visit. It is totally customizable so that you can assess whatever feedback is important to you.

"Not only does this help clinics know what they do well and what they need to improve, but it also gives positive reviews that can be published to a client's website or social media feeds, which encourages future visits from prospective clients," Levendoski said.

A tool known as GO, from InTouch Practice Communication, monitors the electronic landscape. To ensure that your website is being seen or useful, InTouch can help you review and improve its use. It looks for keywords and phrases that your current potential customers might use when reviewing your practice and your competitors online and through social media. It's basically a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) magnet.

Bottom line: Assessing your practice's leadership, crunching the numbers, evaluating team members and review your internal and external communication are as important as your medical expertise in reaching your clients and ensuring best care for their pets."

Click here for the original article.

Friday, August 19, 2016

How can I help if I think a veterinary colleague is depressed?

By Steve Noonan, DVM, CPCC
DVM 360

"There are lots of ways to approach this conversation. Steve Noonan, DVM, who's lived through his own depression, has these suggestions.

If you're concerned someone you know might hurt themselves because of depression and suicidal thoughts, encourage them to get help. But what if someone just seems really down and you don't know what they're thinking and feeling?

Hopefully, yours is a strong team with good communication, says Steve Noonan, DVM, CPCC. Then, ask a good question... and just listen."

Click here for the original article.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why is it so Hard for Veterinarians to Say, “I Don’t Know”?

By Marty Becker, DVM
Veterinary Practice News

"Here are 4 tips to help you learn how to say it.

Why is it so hard for us to say, "I don't know"?

As veterinarians, we've studied for 19 years or more. We're highly educated, trained and experienced. We have to make critical calculations for medication dosages, or where and what to cut in surgery. We make life-and-death decisions at least weekly. The pet owner and entire veterinary health care team ultimately look to us, the doctor, for answers.

I routinely hear people saying that in a zombie apocalypse, they'd want to find a DVM rather than an M.D. because we know almost everything about any species. (To us, humans are just another one!) We have the confidence to be an expert on almost everything, including internal medicine, surgery, radiology, pharmacy, dentistry, dermatology, behavior, bereavement counseling and more. We're frequently experts on running a successful small business, including hiring, training and retraining great staff, marketing, motivation, leadership, customer service, inventory control and cash flow.

What we don't have is someone questioning our judgement and pointing out obvious mistakes. In that, we're not alone.

It Happens Everywhere
On Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from Seoul, Korea, to San Francisco International Airport, the Boeing 777 captain was coming in for a morning landing under clear skies. But on this July day in 2013, the pilot brought the plan in too low and too slow, and he hit the seawall short of the runway. He make mistakes, and this was the first fatal crash of a 777 since its 1995 introduction.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that the primary cause of the crash were pilot and crew errors. For instance:

  • The pilot unintentionally deactivated the automatic speed control.
  • The flight crew failed to monitor airspeed.
  • Crew members delayed execution of a go-around after they became aware that the airplane was below the acceptable glide path.
  • The flight crew was fatigued, which likely degraded performance.
The flight crew members admitted during interviews that they knew the pilot was making critical errors, but due to rank and culture, they didn't feel they could question authority.

Problems in the Veterinary Practice
Can you see this same type of scenario happening in a veterinary hospital? Of course.

I've written before about having covered up a mistake of mine for over three decades - a mistake that cost a pet's life. We've covered the ground about how the veterinary profession doesn't have transparent body bags. Nobody questions the cause of death in 99.99 percent of animal fatalities, unlike on the human side, where detailed internal reviews and coroner exams are common. In veterinary medicine, it's on us as individuals to admit we made a mistake and take steps to prevent future errors.

Let's focus on what to say and do when you really don't know something, whether it's as simple as the correct drug dosage and best pet food of shampoo, or as complicated as the correct surgical approach during an uncommon surgery. Or coming up with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan on a pet that has seen several vets.

How It Used to Be Done
In my early days of practice in the 1980's, I felt like I was expected to always at least come up with an accurate differential diagnosis, with the assumption that, based on the diagnosis, we'd create an effective treatment plan. In those bad old days - looking back with experienced eyes and a greater understanding of my limitations - there were self-inflicted obstructions to a veterinarian's finding an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. For example:

  • We didn't talk about cases very much between doctors. Guess it was a case of bravado to go it alone.
  • We didn't ask for advice from or encourage detailed dialogue among the team members as to what might be wrong with a pet and how to fix it. Sure, they might say Fluffy didn't eat or Sparky had diarrhea, but once we were on the road of our diagnosis and treatment plan, nobody dared suggest the driver - the veterinarian - had taken the wrong road.
  • We didn't refer very often.
Our area lacked specialty hospitals in the 1980's, but our Southern Idaho practices were about equidistant from the Washington State University and Colorado State University veterinary colleges.

Looking back, even if a pet continued to worsen the thought was that the treatment wasn't working and that we could make changes, versus we didn't have a clue what's wrong and we need to refer to a team of experts (vet schools) that might crack the code.

The Doctor Is In
I'd been in practice about six years - I'm currently in my 36th year of practice - when a well-known and respected primary care physician from Twin Falls, Idaho, came into my veterinary practice with a very sick retriever.

Dr. Wayne Schow had me as a patient - from mumps to bumps and when I tore my anterior cruciate ligament during eighth-grade football and had a concussion as a senior quarterback. I looked at his dog upside down, inside out and front to back but found very few clues.

Remembering that Dr. Schow always seemed to know what was wrong and how to fix it, he must have sensed my hesitation. "Why don't you run some lab work on him?" he said. "Nobody but God knows everything. The rest of us need help when we don't know."

We ran the tests. The dog had a hollow foreign body that was causing partial obstruction of the bowel. (These were the days before endoscopes.) I never forgot the value in saying. "I don't know, but I'll find out."

4 Tips to Say "I don't know"
In the three decades since that appointment with Dr. Schow, I've embraced "I don't know" and even figured out how to harness and amplify it. Here are my top four steps to knowing how to use "I don't know" to the pet's and your advantage:

  1. Become smarter. By saying you don't know and actually finding the right answer, over the years you actually know more. Just like with my family habit of always looking up words we don't know, I keep digging into a stubborn medical problem until I crack the code. 
  2. T.E.A.M. (Together Each Achieves More). I routinely consult on tough cases with other veterinarians in my practice at North Idaho Animal Hospital, as well as those in my network. I almost always as Michelle, the nurse I practice with, for her opinion and whether I missed anything.
  3. Refer a lot. I practiced for a time with Dr. Bruce King at Lakewood Animal Hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Dr. King is scary smart and one of the top veterinarians I've ever met, out of thousands. Yet from Day One I found that he was quick to refer cases for imaging, dentistry, surgery, dermatology and more. He believed it was better that the pet receive the right diagnosis or treatment than have him feel or project that he knew and could do it all.
  4. Rehearsed spontaneity. I proudly tell pet owners that I don't know "for sure" what's wrong with their pet but that I'm going to find out. I'll say something like ,"I have the ZIP code or your pet's illness, but I need to find the address," or "I feel like I have some pieces to this puzzle, but I'm going to get the rest by consulting with my colleagues and doing additional tests."
Here's the truth, hard as it can be for us to accept: "I don't know" can be far more powerful, welcomed and heartening to a pet owner than the tacit "I know it all" attitude projected by some veterinarians. Don't resist it; embrace it!"

Click here for the original article.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Prisoners Are Training Puppies To Be Service Dogs.

By Caitlin Jill Anders
The Dodo

"Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs is a program that trains dogs to be service animals for individuals with autism as well as wounded veterans. The program is pretty similar to many others like it - except that these dogs get trained in prisons.

In 2014, the organization started a program called Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles & Creating Hope (POOCH). The program was developed as a way to increase the number of service dogs who could be trained and then given to those in need, but it ended up becoming so much more than that.

"Prison inmates are able to dedicate the necessary time to train the dog, and the dogs also thrive on the structure that is provided to them," Victoria Cavliere, programs director for Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, told The Dodo. "Service dogs that are trained in prison programs have a high success rate for placement."

Dogs enrolled in the POOCH program live in the prison with the inmates, and attend classes twice a week with their designated inmate handler. The dogs are also brought out of the prison twice a week for additional training and exposure to different public places.

The program began its trial run at the Richard J. Donovan (RJD) Correctional Facility's firehouse in California, and when that was successful, it was moved into one of the facility's main prison yards. The program was also recently introduced at California's Mule Creek State Prison.

"A total of 11 dogs so far have been placed in the prisons, with five more planned for 2016," Cavaliere said.

Not only is the program beneficial for the dogs, but it also helps the inmates.

"The inmates are offered the opportunity for rehabilitation through the experience of training a dog," Cavaliere said. "Research shows that inmates who train dogs are less likely to reoffend. Research also concludes that dog training programs reduce the number of violent incidents on the yard."

The idea behind a service dog is to improve the lives of those in need, and that's exactly what this program allows the dogs to do - for the people they are eventually placed with as well as the inmates."

Click here for the original story.

6 Scheduling Secrets for Veterinary Receptionists.

By Wendy S. Myers
Veterinary Practice News

"Get your practice's schedule under control with these tips.

A frustrated veterinary receptionist emailed me looking for solutions to her clinic's scheduling nightmares. The three-doctor practice double-books veterinarians most days, must sometimes turn away sick patients and has exhausted employees. The hospital is hiring another doctor and two veterinary technicians, a process that may take months.

How can the hospital see the maximum number of patients and give employees relief? Here are six scheduling secrets that your receptionists don't know:

1) Ask questions to efficiently book exams in less than three minutes.
A receptionist can't spend 12 minutes talking with a client when booking an appointment. Two callers are on hold and a third client is waiting at the front desk to pay. To control the pace of the conversation, ask four questions:

"What will we be seeing your pet for?" This lets you evaluate urgency. Sick patients should be seen the same day, while preventive checkups can be scheduled within one week.

"Is there a doctor you prefer?" If the client requests a specific doctor, offer the next two available exams with that veterinarian. If the caller doesn't have a preference, offer two appointment choices with the doctor who is first available or with a new associate who is building client relationships.

"Which day of the week works best for your schedule?" If she requests Wednesday, search available exams on the next two Wednesdays.

"Do you prefer an appointment in the morning, afternoon or evening?" You're asking the caller for a window, not a specific time. If the caller replies, "2 p.m." say, "Let's see what we have available on Wednesday afternoon."

2) Ask about health concerns when scheduling preventive checkups.
When clients receive reminders and call to book exams, ask "Does <pet name> have any other health concerns that you want to discuss with the doctor?" Her answer may require a longer appointment.

When the caller explains that her 10-year-old dog seems stiff and doesn't enjoy walks, schedule a 30-minute exam for an arthritis workup instead of a 20-minute preventive checkup. Another caller who received an annual reminder shares that her cat occasionally urinates outside the litterbos. Inappropriate elimination becomes the chief complaint, which the veterinarian will address before delivering preventive services.

My webinar on "Secrets to Effective Scheduling," includes choosing the right appointment lengths and using a surgical and dental point system to book procedures.

3) Lead callers with the two-yes-options technique.
Suggest two appointment times that will work well for exam flow and client experiences. Say, "The doctor can see you at 1 or 3 p.m. Which choice works for you?" If neither fits the client's schedule, move on to the next two options.

Don't overwhelm callers with too many choices. "Do you want the 1:10, 2:15, 3:45 or 5:15 p.m. exam?" sounds like the city bus schedule rather than a time to see a veterinarian. You'll confuse callers and send the message that you're not busy, which could leave negative impressions.

4) Guide clients toward specific appointments rather than letting them choose.
You'll have a messy schedule if clients erratically pick appointments. Receptionists need to follow guidelines for appointment lengths and create structure when booking preventive checkups, sick-patient exams, medical progress exams, attended euthanasia, new clients and other exam types.

Lack of organization could cause peaks and valleys in your schedule. You end up with a crazy Monday morning and an empty Thursday afternoon. When a client calls about a preventive checkup, steer her toward lower-volume appointment times where you need to fill valleys.

5) Sandwich a sick-patient exam between two preventive checkups.
A client calls to request an appointment at 2:30 p.m. today for her sick dog. The slot is open, but you have sick-patient exams at 2 and 3 p.m. If you grant her wish, you will have three sick-patient exams in a row. Workups may cause exams to run late, increase client wait times and stress your medical team.

Turn this lose-lose-lose scheduling nightmare into manageable exams. Whenever possible, sandwich a sick-patient exam between two preventive checkups. Preventive care is more predictable and therefore likely to stay on time.

When responding to the caller with a sick pet, first express empathy. Say, "I'm sorry to hear that your dog is sick. Let's schedule an urgent care exam today. The doctor can see your dog at 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Which time fits your schedule?" You've directed the pet owner to two exam times that follow preventive visits.

6) Use urgent-care slots.
Panicked pet owners call your clinic every morning about sick pets. Because this pattern is predictable, block urgent-care slots in your schedule so you can see sick patients the same day. Reserve at lease three 30-minute urgent-care slots per doctor per day. You may need more slots on Monday, Friday and Saturday, when practices typically see a higher volume of sick animals.

How many urgent-care slots will you need? Estimate that 20 percent of exams will be same-day sick patients. If your veterinarian averages three exams an hour and has appointments for sick hours, he would see 18 patients. If you assume 20 percent will be same-day sick patients, block four urgent-care exams in the schedule.

Because the number of urgent-care exams may vary by weekday, review last week's schedule. Add up how many patients each doctor saw on each weekday. Multiply each day's patient count by 20 percent to determine how many urgent-care slots you will need on specific days of the week. If the volume of sick patients on Saturdays consistently has you working late, schedule an urgent-care exam at the top of every hour.

In a multi-doctor practice, stagger urgent-care slots for each doctor by one hour. If two doctors both see urgent-care exams at 10 a.m., they will play "steal the technician" and trigger traffic jams. Here is an example of staggered urgent-care blocks:

Because the patients will need workups, reserve the last urgent-care slot at 60 to 90 minutes before closing time to avoid employee overtime.

If urgent-care appointments don't get filled within 90 minutes of the blocked time, open them for any client. Let's say you have an urgent-care slot at 10 a.m. At 8:30 a.m., no on has called about a sick pet. A client calls at 8:45 a.m. and asks, "I have a new puppy. Can I bring him in today?" If the urgent-care slot at 10 a.m. hasn't been claimed, reply, "Congratulations on your new baby! We have an appointment available at 10 a.m. today. Does that work for you?"

Effective scheduling techniques improve patient care, hospital revenue and client satisfaction. Reclaiming control of your appointments also will boost employee morale."

Click here for the original article.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

People Are Risking Their Lives To Save Animals From Louisiana Floods.

By Zainab Akande
The Dodo

"As devastating flooding continues to impact parts of southern Louisiana and Mississippi, rescuers and locals alike have made certain the lives of animals in need aren't lost to high waters as well.

Last Friday, Louisiana's Denhan Springs Animal Shelter was completely engulfed in rising floodwaters, leaving just the roof of the building barely visible.

"The dedicated staff and volunteers fought to save as many animals as possible from the flood waters, eventually having to unlatch the kennel doors and let the dogs swim out and climb onto the roof," the rescue wrote on GoFundMe.

"Just to make sure everyone knows, we were able to rescue MANY cats and kittens also! thanks volunteers and staff!"

A volunteer told The Dodo that boats were then used to transport rescued dogs and cats to higher ground where they would be safe from drowning - ever since, neighbors who did not evacuate from their homes, along with local organizations, have been assisting the shelter in feeding and providing temporary care for the animals.

In the meantime, shelter workers are working toward lining up proper foster homes.

The volunteers also said that in addition to helping Denham Springs' homeless animals, the shelter anticipates that they will rescue pets who've lost their families and homes to floodwaters.

"Good thing Rachel likes cats!!
This is our director stranded in Denham with a vacant house full of cats and kittens!!!!! please fill out those foster forms for cats and dogs so we have a place to send them when we get them out. thanks fosters!"

Other animal rescues have taken place across the state as well. One photo shared on Facebook shows a man pulling a boat filled with sheep.

"It's Noah's ark Cajun-style," a commenter noted about the image. The sheep were later spotted grazing on dry land together.

As of yesterday, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Enforcement agents have rescued 464 animals, in addition to more than 2,300 people. "Search and rescue operations are still ongoing and the number of people and animals rescued will rise over the course of the day into Aug. 15," the organization wrote on Facebook. "Agents will also remain on alert and be ready for further search and rescue activities until the flood waters recede."

Members of the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART) have also been monitoring flood conditions and have been sending out teams to assist with rescue efforts."

Click here for the original story
and to find out how you can help.

National Check the Chip Day.

Learn more about
National Check the Chip Day
at the AVMA website!

Meme Monday

Saturday, August 13, 2016

International Left-Handers Day!

Are you left handed? 
Then today is the day for you!

"On 13th August 1992 the Club launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. This even is now celebrated worldwide, and in the U.K. alone there have been more than 20 regional events to mark the day in recent years - including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide "Lefty Zones" where left-handed creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!

These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority - although there is still a long way to go!"

Did You Know?
  • Sinistrophobia is the fear of left-handedness or things on the left side.
  • While many people are left-handed, very few are 100% left handed. 
  • Lefties are also called "southpaws." The term was coined in baseball to describe a left-handed pitcher.
  • Tuesdays are Lefties luck day.
  • Only about 10% of the population is left-handed.
  • During the 1600's people thought left-handers were witches and warlocks.
  • It is believed that all polar bears are left handed.
  • There is a rumor that octopuses have but one right hand.
  • The Left-Handers slogan is: "Everyone is born right-handed. Only the greatest overcome it."

To learn more about this day,

Stroke Survivor Builds Special Walker For Paralyzed Penguin.

By Sarah V Schweig
The Dodo

"When a paralyzed penguin was found on the beach on the Western Cape of South African last December, local resident Eric Stewart saw himself in the bird.

Stewart often rides his bike past the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a seabird rescue center in Cape St. Francis, where the penguin found a forever home. (The bird's injuries and sweet demeanor make it impossible for him to return to the wild.)

The bird was in a very tame state upon arrival here at the center," Nada Manengela, marketing and fundraising coordinator for SANCCOB, told The Dodo. No one knew why the penguin became paralyzed, Manengela said, but rescuers suspect that he sustained head trauma.

Stewart sympathized with the penguin's plight because he knows how hard it is to come back from a head injury. Stewart had to learn how to walk again after a stroke a few years ago.

"I got tears in my eyes when I saw the penguin for the first time and I wanted to do something to help," Stewart told News 24. Stewart decided that the penguin deserved a chance to walk again, so he built a tiny walker.

After a month in the walker, as well as swimming lessons three times a day, the little penguin amazingly learned how to waddle on his own again.

"He continues to live a very good quality of life in our home pen," Manengela said.

With so many people believing in him, it's no wonder he's getting better."

Click here for the original story.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Wildlife Officials Stumble Upon A Rare 'Saber-Toothed' Elephant.

By Stephen Messenger
The Dodo

"This unusual little Bornean pygmy elephant grew his tusks a bit different than the rest, but he's no less adorable because of it.

"The so-called "saber-toothed" elephant was discovered recently by rangers from the Wildlife Department of Sabah's Resuce Unit while helping to translocate a wild herd in Felda Umas, Malaysia.

It's unclear why exactly the otherwise healthy-looking pachyderm developed tusks that swoop downward rather than upward, but we're glad it doesn't seem to be slowing him down. Whatever the reason may be, the unit's former director Sen Nathan isn't passing any judgements:

"This is a rare find," he told the New Straights Times, "but all elephants are unique on its own."

Bornean pygmy elephants are listed as an endangered species, primarily due to threats from habitat loss, but fortunately this special fella and his family are in good hands.

Soon, they'll be arriving at an undisclosed protected forest where they can live their lives in peace.

Interestingly, while seeing a "saber-toothed" elephant may be something of an oddity today, it actually harkens back to an earlier time.

A larger prehistoric relative of modern-day elephants, called Deinotherium, sported a similar appearance until dying out about 2.5 million years ago.

Based on this artistic recreation of how Deinotherium might have appeared, it's probably fair to say our cute little pygmy elephant pulls off the look much better."

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The Fatal Epidemic Of Animal Care Workers That No One Is Talking About.

By Regina Lizik
Editor, Viral Content

"In September of 2014, 48-year-old veterinary behaviorist and best-selling author Dr. Sophia Yin died of suicide. Dr. Yin was a trailblazer in the dog training community. She wrote books, created instructional videos, and developed tools for positive reinforcement training.

In the Huffington Post, Anna Jane Grossman writes that it is impossible to overstate Dr. Yin's contribution to the world.

It is, perhaps, this overwhelming dedication to animals that led her to take her own life. According to those closest to her, Dr. Yin likely suffered from compassion fatigue.

Charles Figely, Ph.D., Director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, defines compassion fatigue as:

"Emotional exhaustion, caused by the stress of caring for traumatized or suffering animals or people."

Compassion fatigue is also known as "secondary-traumatic stress disorder" (STSD). The symptoms of STSD are similar to PTSD. As with PTSD, compassion fatigue can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.

STSD is not rare and Dr. Yin's suffering was not unusual.

The first ever mental health survey for veterinarians revealed that one in six of them have contemplated suicide. A recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that animal rescue workers have a suicide rate of 5.3 in 1 million workers. This is the highest suicide rate among American workers; a rate shared only by firefighters and police officers. The national suicide average for American workers is 1.5 per 1 million.

Jessica Dolce, a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator, says,
"Compassion fatigue is an occupational hazard of our work with animals, whether you are an animal control officer or kennel attendant in a small town or an internationally recognized veterinarian. Our work requires that we compassionately and effectively respond to the constant demand to be helping those who are suffering and in need."
Yet, no one is discussing this very real and very prevalent epidemic. Perhaps that is because we think of animal care as more practical than emotional.

Justina Calgiano, Director of Public Relations and Special Events at the Delaware County SPCA, a private lifesaving animal welfare organization just outside of Philadelphia, spoke to us about this, saying:
"Setting personal limits is hard in animal welfare, because it's not 'just a job' - it's like a religion."
This means that even success stories leave their own scars. In fact, according to Colleen Mehelich of, STSD is only minimally related to euthanasia.

Calgiano remembers a particularly difficult case involving a Pit-Bull named Precious whom repair workers found locked in a flooded basement.
"She was found amidst a flood of water, steam, and an outbreak of fleas. She weighed a devastating 17 pounds. She couldn't even lift her head, let alone walk. We had workers come to the shelter in shifts around the clock to spoon feed her and flip her body to prevent bed sores. After investigation, it was discovered that her mom, Angel, died in the basement from starvation - the same fate Precious would have suffered."
Now Precious lives a joyful life with a loving family of both humans and other dogs. Still, the trauma of witnessing Precious's struggle will never leave Calgiano.

Success stories are not always possible. This is often due to medical reasons, behavioral issues, or most tragically for rescue workers, lack of space.

The Delco SPCA once functioned as more of an animal control facility than a haven. In 2009, 2,325 animals were euthanized, while 1,845 were adopted.

Thanks to the help of their Executive Director, Richard Matelsky, Delco SPCA is now a no-kill shelter. Euthanasia only occurs for medical or extreme behavioral reasons. The shelter is now listed as one of the best in the country.

Not every shelter has the opportunity to go from "high-kill" to "haven." The mental and physical stressors in those environments can be debilitating to the people who work there.

While it's easy to suggest to these workers to take time for themselves and practice self-care and stress management, it's not as easy to put those techniques into practice. The majority of rescue workers are volunteers with separate careers.

On top of that, finding foster homes for animals in need is a difficult task, leaving rescue workers and veterinarians to take as many animals as possible into their own homes. Many of these pets have severe behavioral and/or medical issues due to the way they have been treated in the past.

The nature of the work is not the only thing impacting the mental health of animal welfare workers. The nature of the workers is also at play here.

Molly Sumner, a QPR trained Gatekeeper who helps people during times of crisis, notes that those with a deep compassion for animals take a considerable amount of weight on their shoulders. Because animals cannot speak for themselves, rescuers feel they must break their own personal limits to give a voice to those in need.

Psychotherapist J. Eric Gentry tells the Sacramento Bee:
"Animal care professionals are some of the most pain-saturated people I have ever worked with. The very thing that makes them great at their work, their empathy and dedication and love for animals, makes them vulnerable."
With little time to care for themselves, it's important that animal workers connect with support programs.

People like Elizabeth Strand, Founding Director of Veterinary Social Work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK), are taking steps to increase access to support services. Veterinary social workers receive training similar to that of regular social workers, but they also learn how to address the specific needs of animal care workers.

Veterinarian Kate Knutson tells
"We learn the technical and scientific skills, but what we're not getting enough of is communication and relationship skills. Veterinarians desperately need better communication skills."
UTK has also launched S.A.V.E., Suicide Awareness in Veterinary Education, which provides mental health information to veterinary students.

In the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Veterinary Services launched the Mind Matters Initiative in December 2014. The program's main focus is to reduce stigma, raise awareness and identify risk factors. The program also funnels founding to the Vet Helpline, which offers services for people in immediate crisis.

In addition to these services, many in the field advise that realism is one of the best methods of staving of crisis.

Mehelich feels that it is important to experience and accept feelings of sadness and loss. Avoiding them lets them fester and build up.

Dolce agrees:
"When we recognize that it's perfectly normal to be affected by our work, we can more easily take steps to better manage the impact of compassion fatigue on our lives. Start by educating yourself and your staff. We can't address what we don't understand. Read a book, take a class or webinar."
Calgiano adds that setting small boundaries is helpful. Something as simple as not checking your email for a few hours on the weekend may give your emotions time to recharge.

Nearly all animal care workers agree that your first line of defense against compassion fatigue is to accept the reality that you cannot save everyone. Take things one day at a time and do not underestimate the importance of saving one life. That one act makes a world of difference to that animal to the the humans who will love them."

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