Come on Irene…

This week Mother Nature did her very best to let us East-Coasters know who’s really in charge. An historic 5.8 earthquake—in the middle of Virginia, of all places—followed up with the approaching Level 3 Hurricane Irene, has made for an impressive one-two punch. And, while I realize I’ve blogged previously about natural disaster preparedness, it’s such a vital part of living with companion animals that I chose to reiterate its importance again this week as we all hit the stores for supplies. So be sure to add the following to your lists of batteries, flashlights, bottled water and dry goods:


Keep vaccination, microchip records and an up-to-date list of hotel and motels in your targeted evacuation area that allow pets with the “people papers” you would grab on your way out the door. Many hotels, motels and temporary shelters require these if you need them to accommodate Fluffy during evacuations.

Carriers and leashes:

Have them both accessible and always bring them when you evacuate. Even if it’s not Fido’s favorite place to be, most evacuation sites that allow animals will require that animals be in carriers.

Food and water:

Keep a travel pack of food and water that you can grab on your way out the door. If supplies get low at local stores before and during a disaster, you won’t be stuck with a hungry kitty.


Your animal should have a collar and ID tag on at all times anyway, but this is particularly important during evacuation situations. Too, be sure that the tag contains a cell phone number, if you have one, so that you can be reached while away from your home should you and your companions be separated for any reason.

Don’t ever leave your animals behind:

Don’t ever leave your animals behind. If you are without transportation and would, therefore, have to rely on others to help you evacuate, including city owned transportation systems, be sure to call before a disaster occurs to inquire about their “people-with-pets” evacuation regulations. Be sure to get their policy in writing, and keep it with your other important papers.

Don’t ever leave your animal once you have evacuated:

Sadly, “dog-nappers” and “bunchers” (slime balls who steal animals to sell to testing facilities) don’t take time off during disasters, so don’t leave your animal even for a minute.

Stay up-to-date:

Designate a particular day each year—ours is the first day of summer—as the day to update all of the above information and to check for the required supplies you need to ensure a safe evacuation for your animals.

It is estimated that nearly 12,000 animals died in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, 2000-3000 of those in the New Orleans area alone. Having a well-organized disaster plan that includes your companion animals can prevent your companion from becoming one of these statistics. Too, being prepared will make a potentially frightening situation run more smoothly for you and your family members, even those with four legs.

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Takin’ it to the Streets

The GetYourFix condom campaign that we displayed at the Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference in Washington D.C. was the focus of last week’s blog. Well, the effort to grab people’s attention paid off! This week I am proudly highlighting a GetYourFix Funder that first learned about us at TAFA. Her name is Gabbi and she is not only an active Funder, but also an active volunteer.

Gabbi is sponsoring the fixes, vaccine boosters, FIV/FELV tests, and flea control of two adorable kitties: Luna and Sandstorm (pictured), who were littermates rescued by Owner Angela from a stray mama. While stellar in her capacity as a Funder with a plan of funding a fix every month (awesome!), Gabbi is also interested in spreading the word of GetYourFix in her local community by distributing materials at retail locations.

We are looking for more people like Gabbi to get the message out about GetYourFix in local communities. We especially need to find Funders to help the large volume of pets in need. You (yes you!) can get posters, rack cards, and online ads from our site and spread the word about our program – visit our Promotional Materials shop.

If are a dedicated spay/neuter junkie like us, you might also be interested in forming a GetYourFix Street Team. Focus your desire to help end companion overpopulation in your local area (remember “Think Global, Spay Local”): keep track of people in need on GYF, develop relationships with local spay/neuter clinics, and even fundraise to sponsor local fixes. Visit GetYourFix to find out more or send an email to

Sound like fun? Of course, it does! As a Street Teamer, you’ll even get some of those cool condoms to distribute!

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Conferences, Condoms and…Caffeine?

The past few weeks at FiXiT have been a frantically blissful case of seeing hard work pay off. Attending and participating in the HSUS Taking Action for Animals (TAFA) conference was an honor and the opportunity provided us with overwhelming support and positive feedback. In fact, while teaching a workshop on “Strategies to Address Pet Overpopulation,” the audience stopped Co-Founder Stephanie Downs to applaud when she reached the point of introducing in the presentation, which began to be coined the “© for spay and neuter” throughout the conference.

We displayed hundreds of pet profiles from at the conference, and distributed even more of what is quickly becoming known as our “signature piece,” our GetYourFix Condoms (how fun is that?!). Everyone was so impressed by our new way of thinking; analyzing and approaching the animal overpopulation crisis from a business standpoint…not an emotional one. In fact, we created such a buzz that we were asked to be a guest on the Talking Animals radio show (which airs on NPR’s affiliate station), were interviewed by HSUS, secured over 50 people to join our volunteer street team (Hoowa!) and countless people signed up for our soon-to-be-launched eNews which will keep people updated on our progress. We even recruited a volunteer at the event who helped staff the booth!

Exhausted but truly validated, our staffers came home, downed some caffeine, and launched right into plans for our next event in order to keep this ball rolling. Pamper for a Cause, a fundraiser that FiXiT will host near the end of October, will pair generous our local salons with compassionate clients to benefit both our local and national spay and neuter programs. Be sure to check out the site for the latest on this event, and for information on how to participate if you are in the Hampton Roads area …and be sure to spread the word!

While we are so proud of all that we are accomplishing, we fully recognize that we have a long way to go, and that we can only get there with more hard work, more creative ideas and, of course, the generosity of compassionate people like you…and perhaps some more coffee…but we are certainly up for the challenge!

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I say kitty. You say cat.

The latest data for euthanasia has been published by Animal People in their most recent online magazine. For the second year in a row, we see an overall decline in the number of animals euthanized – down to 3.5 million. This is a significant improvement from just 5 years ago, when we hit a 20-year high at 4.9 million.

While I think these numbers inspire cautious optimism about the success of promoting spaying and neutering, the variance across the country is what strikes me. There is no region in the U.S. where cats and dogs are euthanized in equal proportion. In the Mid-Atlantic, the ratio of cat to dog killing is over 5:1, while in the Gulf region the ration is 1:2.

These skewed ratios are based on regional cultural differences, including how cats versus dogs are perceived as members of the family, as property, or as pests. This is something that I deal with everyday on St. Croix. Dogs represent 80% of our spay/neuter clinic clients. Is this because there are so few cats? No. They are represented proportionately on the island at least by half of the number of dogs. It is that cats and dogs are not
perceived in the same way.

During our spay/neuter perception survey conducted last year, FiXiT saw differences in the perspectives of people who take care of cats versus dogs. More cat caretakers said that it was “unnecessary” when asked why they were not fixed; cats are seen as part of the environment, more like wildlife. Dog people more often said that they would like to breed them; they are considered more like property or status symbols.

These differences in cultural perspectives are why we need to test how different messages will play in each unique location. As FiXiT continues onward, each region that we enter in the continental U.S. to find the optimal marketing solutions will need to be seen through the eyes of the local residents – a challenge, but one well worth the end result.

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Save Global – Spay Local is less than 4 months old, but we are amazed at how you all have really responded to it. Periodically, I am going to share a success story and give credit to some amazingly generous people. Sophy is a spay/neuter clinic volunteer that has been keeping an eye out for pet profiles on (GYF) in her community and reaches out to help.

Sophy has been volunteering with Pets Ltd. for a year and a half. The organization provides low cost spay/neuter to members of their community in Fairfax Station, VA. Sophy became involved with the organization when she found a feral cat mama and her kittens that needed to be fixed at her children’s high school. Impressed with the small group of hard-working volunteers, she decided to join the team.

Through Sophy’s dog’s facebook page – yes, her dog!, she heard about She searched for people in need in her area, so that she could recommend Pets Ltd. She hooked up with an owner, Leanne, who had posted a profile for her rescued cat, William. William also had an unaltered sister, and then two more strays were found. After all was said and done, Leanne was provided with four fixes, plus vaccines, deworming, a nail trim, and flea prevention.

Sophy and Pets Ltd generously split the hefty cost for all of these services. This gives a great example of people associated with clinics that are using GYF to provide help in their own community. It makes GetYourFix so local, despite its national reach. I see Sophy continue to reach out to people in her community on the GYF message boards – have you searched for pets in your area?

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July 4th Animal Safety

I’ll never forget having to coax my childhood dog, Betsy, out from under the bed after a raging thunderstorm. And forget Fourth of July. Living so near the historic area in Virginia, the nearly thirty minute-long show had her under there for hours, shivering and peering out at us with that wide-eyed “please just make it stop” look.

Continuous loud noises, like those produced by fireworks shows, can confuse and deeply upset our animals. So when you make your Fourth of July plans, be sure to include safe ones for Fido and Fluffy. An out-of-the way room that can be filled with your animals’ comfort items—bedding, toys, food and water, litter box etc.—can be a perfect “bunker” for your fluffy friends during firework hours. You can allay any separation anxiety by providing a new toy. You can also leave a radio on with the volume low to help mask the frightening noises that are likely to heighten their anxiety.

While it is never a humane or safe choice to keep animal companions outdoors, it is important to mention that “outdoor” animals are in particular danger during this holiday. Chained dogs can be frightened into injuring themselves and even become angry and violent if approached while fireworks are being set off. So if you, a neighbor or friend has chosen to have animal companions who live outside of your home, please make (or help others make) arrangements to keep them in doors during this time.

To learn more about keeping your animals safe this Fourth of July, please visit:

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Help Wanted

Last week on St. Croix, we had a veterinarian visiting us to provide some pointers on how to make our spay/neuter clinic more efficient and to provide some tricks of the high-volume trade to our veterinarian, Dr. Bailey. This was a busy week primarily because of the increased demand for skilled volunteers, which is HARD to come by on such a small island. We were extremely lucky to find a vet on island willing to donate her time to our program. What a find!

Our goal is to reach 75 spays and neuters per week. This is the level, given the population of St. Croix, that is necessary to stabilize the cat and dog population. Of course, we are here using our market research and incentive-based strategy to figure out what it will take to get to this level. Once we do, however, we will again find ourselves without that elusive resource – skilled volunteers.

So…I am putting the call out to all of you vet and vet tech types: Move to the Caribbean!

Just to entice you a bit, our visiting vet, in her precious spare time, was able to snorkel Buck Island Reef National Monument, see a sunset in the west on Rainbow Beach, and take a sea turtle tour at Sandy Point National Refuge. I am especially excited about the last one, because I got to participate. A nesting leatherback female – all 700 pounds of her – came within 10 feet of our group looking for a good spot and we released a bunch of day old hatchlings into the ocean. You just can’t beat that!

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