What Ed Boks Consulting can mean to you!

Ed Boks in NYCThe name Ed Boks is associated with life saving programs and results.  Ed Boks has managed three of the largest animal control programs in the United States; Maricopa County, AZ, New York City and Los Angeles.  He also successfully transformed Yavapai County, AZ into the a “no-kill” community while serving as the executive director of the Yavapai Humane Society.

Life saving results is the one consistent hallmark in all of Ed Boks’ assignments.  “If people want to save lives, it can be done, but it will mean hard work and sometimes upsetting the status quo, and that will draw its share of naysayers.”

But there is no denying the results.  Ed Boks’  compassionate, non-lethal programs and strategies are proven to help the greatest number of animals at risk in any community.

In communities large and small, Ed Boks “know how” reduced killing to  historic lows, while transforming animal shelters into high volume pet adoption and safety net programs.  Ed Boks effectively replaces historic “catch and kill” methodologies with a new generation of life-saving, user and animal friendly programs.  Ed Boks can do the same for your community!

For more information on how visit:  Ed Boks Services

What does a government shutdown mean to our nation’s animals? by Ed Boks

There has been a lot of talk concerning a government shutdown in Washington- which begs the question, how would such a shut down affect our nation’s animals?

Here is a brief outline describing how the following animal welfare-related duties would be affected during a government shutdown:

Puppy Mills: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) would not be able to perform all of its duties under the Animal Welfare Act. Specifically, it could not inspect puppy mills or pet dealers. During this break in oversight, untold harm could be done to commercially bred animals simply because no one is empowered to monitor their safety. The puppy mill industry is notorious for egregious animal abuse and neglect; the mind reels at what these animals would suffer without any oversight.

Horse Soring: Soring involves the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Caustic chemicals and blistering agents like mustard oil, diesel fuel and kerosene are applied to the horse’s limbs, causing extreme pain.

Another form of soring, known as pressure shoeing, involves cutting a horse’s hoof almost to the quick and tightly nailing on a shoe, or standing a horse for hours with the sensitive part of his soles on a block or other raised object. This causes excruciating pressure and pain whenever the horse puts weight on the hoof.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is charged with enforcing the Horse Protection Act to combat the abusive practice of horse soring. APHIS oversees the inspection of at-risk show horses to ensure they have not been sored and assesses penalties for violations. Suspension of the APHIS program will allow unscrupulous trainers to take advantage of this lapse in oversight.

Animal Slaughter: The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) uphold the requirements of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act related to the treatment of animals prior to and during slaughter. This has been deemed a necessary function, so FSIS inspectors will continue to monitor food safety and humane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses during a shutdown.

Wild Horses: Federal agencies periodically round up and remove large numbers of free-roaming wild equines on public rangelands. This policy often results in tens of thousands of wild horses languishing in holding facilities. Roundups would suspended during the shutdown, and caretakers for the horses already confined will remain on the job.

Zoos/Circuses: Exotic animal exhibitors are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act; unfortunately, the welfare of these animals would be suspended during a government shut down.

Animals in Laboratories: The USDA enforces the AWA to ensure minimum standards of care for animals in laboratories. While employees are on the job maintaining the animals, there would be no USDA watchdog ensuring that minimum standards of care are met. This is another industry whose history is seriously tainted by egregious animal abuse and neglect. The temporary lack of oversight would put these animals at great risk.

Here’s hoping a shut down is avoided.

Business-savvy landlords allow pets By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and landlordsOne of the biggest challenges communities face in achieving “no-kill” comes from landlords who refuse pets despite hearing from their own colleagues and professional journals that permitting pets makes good business sense. In fact, a survey conducted by The Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare found:

• Fifty percent of all rentals nationally prohibit pets;

• Thirty-five percent of tenants without pets would own a pet if permitted;

• Tenants in pet-friendly housing stay an average of 46 months compared to 18 months in rentals prohibiting pets;

• The vacancy rate for pet-friendly housing is lower (10 percent) than “no pets allowed” rentals (14 percent); and

• Twenty-five percent of applicants inquiring about rentals in non-pet-friendly housing are seeking pet-friendly rentals.

With such a sizable potential tenant pool it seems there should be enough pet-friendly housing to meet demand. According to economic theory, in perfectly functioning markets (where people make rational, profit-maximizing decisions, with full information and no significant transaction costs) pet-friendly housing should always be available to renters willing to pay a premium to cover any extra costs to landlords.

Why then do so many landlords overlook opportunities to increase profits by providing pet-friendly housing? With nearly 70 percent of American households having companion animals and over half of renters who do not have a pet wanting one, why are so few pet-friendly rental units available?

The report found that among landlords who do not allow pets, damage was the greatest concern (64.7 percent), followed by noise (52.9 percent), complaints/tenant conflicts (41.2 percent) and insurance issues (41.2 percent). Concerns about people leaving their pet or not cleaning common areas were rarely cited (5.9 percent).

Although 85 percent of landlords permitting pets reported pet-related damage at some time, the worst damage averaged only $430. This is less than the typical rent or pet deposit. In most cases, landlords could simply subtract the damage from a pet deposit and experience no real loss. In fact, the report finds landlords experience no substantive loss. There is little, if any, difference in damage between tenants with and without pets.

Other pet-related issues (e.g., noise, tenant conflicts concerning animals or common area upkeep) required slightly less than one hour per year of landlord time. This is less time than landlords spend for child-related problems and other issues. Whatever time landlords spend addressing pet-related problems is offset by spending less marketing time on pet-friendly units by a margin of 8 hours per unit.

The study found problems arising from allowing pets to be minimal; and benefits outweigh the problems. Landlords stand to profit from allowing pets because, on average, tenants with pets are willing and able to pay more for the ability to live with their pets.

YHS receives many wonderful pets because of this unnecessary housing shortage. Imagine if all Yavapai County landlords permitted pets. That would create a demand far greater than the number of pets dying in our shelters, allowing our community to maintain its status among the safest communities in the United States for pets.

Unfortunately, too many landlords overlook the opportunity to increase revenue, tenant pools and market size by allowing pets. While the benefits to landlords are easily quantified in a profit/loss statement, the benefit to our community’s homeless pets is incalculable. Landlords can make a profitable, life-saving choice by simply permitting pets.

Compassion is not a finite commodity By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and strategic planningIn many communities, decisions regarding animal welfare are complicated by a host of competing priorities. When evaluating competing priorities it’s easy to look to the bottom line. When that happens, the questions of conscience concerning animal welfare can be overlooked.

There will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make animal welfare seem less important. But compassion is not a finite commodity. We demonstrated the power of compassion in 2012 by ending euthanasia as our community’s method for controlling pet overpopulation. That is no small achievement; indeed, it places us among the nation’s most humane communities.

Still it’s not difficult to understand how decision makers can feel strongly that human need and wants are more important than animal needs and wants. When this happens, animal welfare can be reduced to a simple equation of what’s affordable, profitable or expedient. We can almost fool ourselves into thinking we’re dealing with widgets rather than lives. It’s at this point that our moral fiber emerges.

German philosopher Immanuel Kant opined that “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.” Indian Prime Minister Mahatma Gandhi expanded on this truism stating the moral progress of an entire community “can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” No less than Abraham Lincoln said he considered animal welfare as important as human welfare for “that is the way of a whole human being.”

Ed Boks and Matthew Scully
Ed Boks and Matthew Scully

Matthew Scully, senior speech writer for President George W. Bush and author of the book Dominion, put it this way: “We are called upon to treat animals with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are easily overlooked, their interests easily brushed aside.”

The danger now is that we return to thinking there is only enough compassion in our community for our elderly but not for our children; or just enough love for our children but not for our mentally ill; or just enough kindness for our human populations but not for our animals. St. Francis of Assisi taught that to regard the lives of animals as worthless is one small step away from regarding some human lives as worthless.

We compound community wrongs when wrongs done to animals are excused by saying there are more important wrongs done to humans and we must concentrate on those alone. A wrong is a wrong, and when we shrug off these little wrongs we do grave harm to ourselves and others.

“When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us… and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity.” (Scully: Dominion)

As 2012 comes to a close, I want to thank the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors, the Prescott City Council and the Prescott Valley Town Council for their support in 2012 and ask them to kindly remember animal welfare as they begin to build their 2013/14 budgets.

If you want to live in a community where the circle of compassion includes animals, let your elected officials know how important their support of the local shelter is to you. You can also help this humane initiative directly by making a yearend donation; including your shelter in your will; joining their volunteer program; or adopting a pet from them. Together we transformed our community into a showcase for “that good and important part of our humanity.” This can continue into 2013 and beyond – but only with your help, involvement and support.

Achieving No-Kill by the numbers By Ed Boks

Ed Boks and No KillEarly in my animal welfare career I developed a “no-kill” ethic.  I trained shelter staff to apply this “ethic” by using the same criteria for deciding a homeless animal’s fate that a compassionate owner or conscientious veterinarian would apply to a beloved pet.  That is, healthy and treatable animals are not killed simply because we lack the room or resources to care for them.

The “no-kill” ethic embodies a commitment that for every animal who comes through a shelter’s doors there is a kind and loving person or family – and it is our mission to bring them together.

There are three statistics animal shelters can use to measure their success, or failure, in reducing pet euthanasia (or killing). To rely on any one or two of these numbers tells only a partial, and possibly obfuscated, story.  When you compare all three of these numbers you are better able to tell your organization and your community’s whole story:

The Live Release Rate (LRR) refers to the number of animals who get out of a shelter alive.  I call this “heartbeats in/heartbeats out”.  It includes adoptions, transfers to rescue organizations, and lost pets returned to owners. Some shelter experts claim a 90 percent LRR is the threshold to “no-kill.”  During my tenure at the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) in Arizona, I maintained a 97 percent LRR for several years.  This is a good internal measurement.

The Euthanasia Rate reports the actual number of animals euthanized.  In the first year implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS achieved a 63 percent reduction in killing, followed by a 64 percent reduction in year two, and a 40 percent reduction in year three; for an overall reduction of 92 percent.  This too is an important internal measure of success or progress.

The Per Capita Kill Rate refers to the number of animals killed per 1,000 residents.  Prior to implementing the no-kill ethic, YHS was killing 17.25 animals per 1,000 residents.  This was one of the worst kill rates in Arizona. However, at the end of my tenure we had reduced the YHS kill rate to 0.2; the lowest in the nation for several consecutive years!  This number is the best for comparing your community with other communities in your state or across the nation.

Ed Boks leaves Yavapai Humane Society; carrying on his legacy

Ed Boks and Yavapai Humane SocietySix years ago this month I joined the Yavapai Humane Society (YHS) team as executive director. When I joined the YHS team I found an organization operating with some challenges — from a notable deficit, high employee turnover, and low morale.

The greatest concern was the sheer number of animals dying each year. YHS was among the highest kill shelters in Arizona per capita; killing over 2,200 animals annually – six per day. The organization and our community wanted to see change.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, I made it my mission to bring a transformative vision to YHS, summed up in the term “No Kill Ethic.” I have always stood in the conviction that killing animals because of lack of space or out of convenience is immoral and it need not occur in any community.

The YHS Board of Directors rallied around this vision to help attract and establish a team aligned with our determination to end the killing. The results speak for themselves.

YHS immediately began the “steepest and fasted decline in shelter killing ever seen in any shelter anywhere” according to Animals 24/7 publisher Merritt Clifton, a 25-year watchdog of animal shelter euthanasia in the United States.

This transformation was no flash in the pan either. YHS has sustained the lowest or among the lowest kill rates of any shelter in the nation throughout my tenure—a commitment that I know the solid leadership which remains at YHS will continue to carry far out into the future. Today, YHS holds prestigious ratings from both Charity Navigator and GuideStar for fiscal responsibility and effective program management.

I am honored to have been a part of what I consider to be YHS’s greatest chapter – transforming a troubled past into a very bright future.

This was not a one man show. The YHS miracle occurred because of a committed Board of Directors, a brilliant management team, dedicated employees and volunteers, and generous donors and community partners. Together we generated an extraordinary legacy having created and sustained the safest community in the nation for pets.

It is with this recognized success that I have decided to leave YHS to continue my vision to help other communities establish their own “No Kill Ethic.”

Prescott has been my home these past six years and I have come to know many of you and I will miss you all. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

Ed Boks, former Executive Director of Yavapai Humane Society

A message from the Board of Directors President, Jerry Kipp:

“Ed’s vision brought YHS to a place of leadership in the animal welfare industry, and inspired our organization to create an extremely safe community for animals in need. We remain grateful for the numerous contributions Ed has made toward YHS’s lifesaving work and will continue to build on the solid foundation created during his six-year tenure.  We remain committed to our No Kill Ethic, which is at the heart of all we do at our organization.”

Source: Carrying on legacy at Humane Society

July Fourth pet tips by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and FireworksThe month of July is chock-full of patriotic festivities that include outdoor celebrations, picnics, barbecues, and of course, fireworks. Before you pack up for the lake or outdoor arena, stadium or even your own front yard to enjoy the pyrotechnic delights of the holiday, be aware of your pets’ needs and fears.

Animal shelters experience a significant increase in the number of lost (and injured) pets after every July Fourth holiday.

Even pets who are normally calm and obedient can show unpredictable behavior when frightened.  Dogs and cats can become frightened or confused by the excitement and loud noises of the holiday.  I have been involved with rescuing terrified pets who had chewed through their tethers, jumped through plate glass windows or over fences, and escaped “secure” enclosures.

Dogs attempting to flee the frightening, and even painful noises of the fireworks may lose their sense of direction and run long distances risking injury or death as they dart in and out of traffic. This is one of the most dangerous times of year for your pets.

Up close, fireworks can burn or injure your pets, but even if they are far away, they still pose a unique danger to your companion animals.

To minimize the danger to your pets take these few simple steps before you set out to celebrate this Fourth of July:

  • Keep pets indoors in an enclosed area that they are familiar with to minimize fear. If possible, turn on a radio to mask the noise of the fireworks or other celebratory noises.
  • If your pet is excitable, consult your veterinarian to arrange for the administration of a proper calming drug ahead of time.
  • If you have to be away for an extended time, board your pets with family or friends you trust and who can assure you that your pet will be kept confined and cared for.
  • Always be sure your pet has a current microchip. A microchip is the best identification for a pet because it is always with him. A microchip makes it easier for animal control to find you should the unthinkable happen and your pet manages to escape.
  • Even if you think your pet is ok with fireworks and noise, do not let him out when fireworks are being lit and set off. The pet may run at them and sustain serious burns, or bolt and run away.

If your pet does escape this holiday, visit your local shelter every day and post “Lost Dog” or “Lost Cat” signs and canvass surrounding neighborhoods. Place a yard sign in front of your house with a picture of your pet and your phone number. People who find lost pets will often walk or drive around the area attempting to find the owner. This Fourth of July can be the best ever if you take these simple precautions to keep your pets safe and happy. Let’s enjoy the festivities without having to worry about the family pet.

Source: 4th of July Pet Tips

Communities should opt for silent fireworks this 4th of July by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and dogs and pets and fireworksEvery year every community decides to wreak massive mayhem among our companion animals.  If you’re a pet owner, you know I’m talking about the Fourth of July.  Fireworks terrify pets.

A terrified pet will spare no effort to escape the sound and fury of this raucous holiday.  Sounds that are just loud to us humans are actually painful to our pets. Pets don’t react to fireworks just because they are loud – they react because they are painful.

Dogs hear sounds and detect frequencies up to 60,000cps (60 kHz), compared to our human capacity of up to 20,000cps (or 20kHz). Cats have even more sensitive hearing than dogs (64kHz).

Pets who are normally calm and obedient can present unpredictable behavior when afflicted with the startling pain caused by the noise of fireworks.  Dogs and cats can become frightened or confused by the excitement and physical discomfort caused by the loud noises of the holiday.  In the days following the Fourth of July, animal shelters are filled with pets who have chewed through tethers, jumped through plate glass windows or over fences, and escaped “secure” enclosures in a hopeless attempt to escape the terror and pain of fireworks.

Dogs attempting to flee the frightening and hurtful noises of the fireworks can lose their sense of direction and run long distances, risking injury or death as they dart in and out of traffic.

Veterinary visits skyrocket following the Fourth of July and animal shelters  overflow with lost and bewildered pets.  The loud noises from traditional fireworks can cause heart problems, nausea, and even panic attacks in our pets.  Animal shelter employees and volunteers spend many days and hours following this holiday comforting traumatized pets while we try to find their “lost” owners.

As a pet-loving nation I wonder if we should consider sparing our four legged companions the unnecessary suffering that comes from exposing them to the noise of fireworks.  Before you say there is no possible way to celebrate this holiday without loud noises, consider Collecchio, Italy.

Collecchio’s town council enacted a law specifically designed to reduce the fear that fireworks cause their non-human populations. The law requires fireworks to be silent. They found that the silent fireworks significantly reduced the stress that loud fireworks cause animals – and not just pets, but wildlife and farm animals too.  A company called Setti Fireworks, located in Genova, Italy, makes silent explosives for the town of Collecchio – and they claim they can customize silent fireworks for any event – private or public.

Isn’t it time for America to follow this humane example to reduce the stress and pain fireworks cause our pets, wildlife and farm animals?

Source: Yavapai Humane Society advocates for silent fireworks

Foxtail season a deadly threat to your pets by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and FoxtailsYour pet has a deadly enemy that comes in the form of several species of grassy weeds that grow rapidly during the winter/spring rains. When these grasses mature a seed forms at the top of the stalk resembling a fox tail.

Once foxtail grasses dry out, the seed detaches easily and sticks readily to clothing and fur. Foxtail seeds can enter a dog’s body in a variety of ways and once in they act like a fishhook burrowing inward; and because of tiny barbs, it cannot back out on its own.

It’s most common for a foxtail to enter a dog’s body through the skin, nose, ears, paws, genitals and eyes. One veterinarian reported that a foxtail found in a dog’s lung initially entered through the dog’s paw. Foxtails are tenacious and deadly.

Ed Boks and foxtailsFoxtail seeds are relatively small, so detecting them after they enter a dog’s body can be difficult. Veterinarians usually rely on telltale symptoms such as head-shaking, paw licking, swellings on the body, or sudden and continuous sneezing. Foxtails in the ears, nose and eyes are serious and can ultimately be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

When a foxtail is inhaled and lodged in the nasal cavity, a dog will sneeze repeatedly and violently, sometimes even banging his nose on the floor in a futile attempt to dislodge the seed. It is often possible for a veterinarian to sedate the animal, locate the seed with an otoscope and remove it using special forceps if the animal is brought in when symptoms first appear.

If a foxtail is lodged in the paw or under the coat, a lump will usually form that is painful to touch. Depending on how deep the foxtail has traveled it can usually be removed surgically.

When a foxtail gets into a dog’s eye, the dog will paw at the eye. When you see a foxtail under the eyelid don’t try to remove it – you may not get it all. Keep your dog from pawing the eye and get him to a veterinarian immediately, preferably a veterinary ophthalmologist.

When your dog gets a foxtail in an ear, he will usually shake his head violently. Whenever you suspect a foxtail, get your dog to a veterinarian immediately. The best way to handle foxtail problems is to prevent them or treat them early.

Whenever possible avoid foxtail infested areas – especially during the dry season. But after a romp through tall, mature grass follow these steps:

  • Thoroughly brush and inspect your dog’s coat. Run your hands over his coat looking for foxtails. Dogs with long hair are particularly susceptible to foxtails.
  • Look into your dog’s ears. If your dog has floppy ears, lift each ear and inspect.
  • Examine your dog’s paws (in-between toes and paw pads), neck (under the collar), tail/anus, and under leg areas after walks in areas with foxtails. Remove any foxtails sitting on the fur.
  • If you believe your dog has a foxtail lodged somewhere in his body, get him to a veterinarian immediately. The longer you wait, the deeper the foxtail will travel and the more damage it will do, and the more difficult it will be to treat.

Learn to recognize foxtails and avoid them! Foxtail danger in our parks, yards, empty lots and alleys can be greatly reduced by simply mowing the grass regularly, especially in the late spring. Mowing cuts off the foxtail grass before the deadly seed forms.

Source:  Foxtail season deadly threat to pets

Mercy or Terror: Competing Priorities by Ed Boks

Ed Boks and competing prioritiesThese are challenging times for government officials. In many communities the care of lost and homeless animals can be complicated by a host of competing priorities. When evaluating conflicting priorities it’s easy to look to the bottom line. When that happens, questions of compassion can be overlooked.

It’s easy to lose touch with the intrinsic value of animals when confronted with all the issues and problems involved with managing a city, town or county. It’s not difficult to understand how decision makers can feel human needs and wants are more important than animal needs and wants.

When this happens, it’s easy to reduce animal control to a simple equation of expense and expedience. We can fool ourselves into thinking we’re dealing with widgets rather than lives. It’s at this point that a community’s true character emerges.

Indian Prime Minister Mahatma Gandhi taught that the soul of a society is revealed by its treatment of animals.  Animal control is a litmus test for determining a community’s capacity for empathy, compassion and kindness. Imagine the consequences if a community’s treatment of animals translated into how its next generation expressed love, compassion and mercy.

Matthew Scully, senior speech writer for President George W. Bush and author of the book “Dominion,” put it this way: “We are called upon to treat animals with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but because they don’t; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us. Animals are so easily overlooked, their interests so easily brushed aside. Whenever we humans enter their world, from our farms to the local animal shelter to the African savanna, we enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terror and mercy.”

Terror or mercy; every community makes a choice.  Our community made a choice six years ago and has since accomplished what no other community has been able to achieve and sustain – an end to killing to control pet overpopulation. This was done despite higher priorities, greater needs and many human injustices. There will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make the wrongs done to animals seem small and secondary, however, we err when we think of justice or kindness as finite qualities.

A community shortchanges itself when it reasons there is only enough concern for its elderly but not for its children, or just enough love for its children but not for its mentally ill, or only enough compassion for its human population but not for its animals.

We compound wrongs within our character when we excuse the wrongs done to animals by saying more important wrongs are done to humans and we must concentrate on those alone. A wrong is a wrong, and when we shrug off little wrongs, we do grave harm to ourselves and others.

Each year municipalities renew their commitment to mercy or terror when they renew their animal control contract.  These contractual partnerships helped the quad-city region of Arizona become the safest and most humane community in the United States – for six consecutive years.

This was not always the case. Our community was once called “the most inhumane” in the nation by no less than the ASPCA. Together we transformed our community into a national model. We created a true humane society for ourselves, our families and our animals. By continuing to work together, we can and we will sustain this amazing success into the future.

Source: Competing priorities