Gimme Shelter: 2020 Summer Newsletter

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America’s First. Philadelphia’s Forever. MISSION STATEMENT Founded in 1874, Morris Animal Refuge is a pioneer in animal welfare. We are committed to adoption, education and high quality care.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Josh Vieth Anne Evans Sally Wirts Steve Kwaszkiewicz Britt Carpenter Kylie Flett Wayne D. Humphrey III Michele Leff Matthew E. Pilecki Donielle R. Powell Lars Schless Jordan Strokovsky Sarah Theobald Chris Hansen


WELCOME TO OUR 2020 SUMMER NEWSLETTER The beautiful warm weather and the many kittens finding their way to our doorstep must mean that Summer is finally here! The summer newsletter is a long-time tradition for our shelter and our way of sharing information with pet lovers across the globe. We are happy to report that our lifesaving mission has been stronger than ever – and thanks to wonderful supporters like you we have been able to maintain a 96% save rate while continuing to improve our quality of care and expand our capacity. In this newsletter you will learn about some of our biggest successes of the year. I hope that you find it in your hearts to help us continue to improve our shelter and save even more lives. Here’s to a safe, healthy, and happy summer filled with endless tail wags and purrs!

Lewis P. Checchia Executive Director Morris Animal Refuge 1242 Lombard Street Philadelphia, PA 19147 215.735.9570

HAPPY TAILS: BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE LIFESAVER FUND WHAT IS THE LIFESAVER FUND? The LifeSaver Fund is for animals that need extra medical care or behavioral rehabilitation prior to adoption. When an animal in need comes to Morris these funds are ready and waiting. This allows us to provide immediate care and get the animal ready for their new furever homes as quickly as possible. Want to learn more? Visit

Oh Fudge! By Laura Zemanian, Veterinarian

Our medical team was finishing up a long day of surgery when Fudge arrived at Morris Animal Refuge. A good Samaritan found him as a stray and urgently brought him in for care. He was quite a sight to see because he had a severe rectal prolapse. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to describe this condition without being a bit graphic. Fudge had a large portion of his colon protruding from his anus. He was immediately brought to our medical team (who were in the middle of a spay surgery) for evaluation. From the surgery suite, our veterinarian could see Fudge being held by an animal care

attendant in the treatment room. Even from that distance, she could tell Fudge was in dire need of help. “Oh Fudge” may have been uttered... He was the worst case of rectal prolapse our medical team has ever seen! Our veterinarian quickly and safely finished up the spay, while our veterinary technician got to work administering pain medication to help relieve Fudge’s discomfort.

inside-out” and our veterinarian added some special stitches to the colon (colopexy) to prevent this from recurring. Fudge recovered well from surgery, and he was placed into a medical foster home. We suspect that sweet boy Fudge’s rectal prolapse occurred due to constipation secondary to dehydration and intestinal parasites - all acquired from his life as a stray. He was so constipated Not only did Fudge have a he kept trying to push and push rectal prolapse, but he was also and then pushed too much! With severely underweight and the underlying causes now fixed, dehydrated. Our team attempted Fudge has not experienced any to non-invasively fix (manually recurrence. He is a normal, healthy reduce) his rectal prolapse. This cat! His foster family fell in love with involves sugar to reduce swelling, him and became his forever lubrication, and lots of finesse and home. He now spends his time patience. Unfortunately, Fudge’s teasing the dog and playing with prolapse was too large for this sibling cats in the household. He method of treatment. Our team could not be happier! converted to abdominal surgery. The prolapse was fixed from “the

Third Time’s The Charm By: Darryl Moore, Director of Operations Bradley was an 11 year old senior cocker spaniel mix who was brought to the refuge after his previous family of 10 years had to move and could no longer keep him. Upon his arrival at the refuge, he was very sweet, affectionate, and loved getting treats from our staff. During his first medical exam, we quickly discovered that poor Bradley was blind. However despite his vision loss, he still found a way to navigate the shelter grounds. Staff and volunteers worked closely with Bradley to help make him comfortable with his environment and he quickly became a favorite. At the Morris Animal Refuge, we pride ourselves in finding the best possible placement for every animal under our care. With Bradley being a blind senior cocker mix, in a shelter full of younger and seemingly healthier dogs, we knew that he was going to be a challenging animal to find a home for. His first placement

since his arrival to the shelter was in our foster care program. Being placed into foster care would allow Bradley to spend some time outside of the shelter while we learned more about what he would need in a forever home. Due to an unfortunate bite incident, we discovered Bradley was easily spooked and needed people to verbally make their intentions known before handling him. It’s no secret that senior animals can be tough to find homes for, but a blind senior animal requires not only special care but also patience . We wanted to make sure that Bradley had a fair chance and that any adopter who takes him on should know how to properly manage him. Any animal with diminished eyesight can be easily spooked, so it’s important that they are always aware of their surroundings, especially when being handled. Bradley was in our

shelter’s care for roughly 4-5 months, during which he went to two homes that didn’t work out and had a few health issues that our veterinary staff was able to get him through. With Bradley, the third time was the charm! His final adopter was not only 100% committed but was dedicated to working with Bradley on all of his special needs. Bradley’s story is a reminder that though for some it may be more difficult, there is a forever home out there for each animal that comes through our doors.

Always Improving By: Emmy Homan, Development Manager At Morris Animal Refuge, we are always striving to improve the quality of life for animals while they are in our care. We update habitats, keep our staff informed on standards of care using information from experts in the field of animal welfare, and more. One way we plan to do this in the upcoming months is to purchase new cat dens that will allow us to

transport cats around the shelter in a safer, less stressful way than using the transportation containers that we currently have. These dens are easier to disinfect, shelter animals from stressors they may encounter when being moved through the shelter and are labeled as an acceptable handling tool in the Fear Fee Shelter Program. We are so

excited to provide this update for our kitties, but we need your help! Please consider making a donation to help us cover the cost of these great tools.

Make a donation at or use the enclosed envelope!

Morris Animal Refuge 3rd Annual Calendar Contest By Carly Gove, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator

Every September, the Refuge runs a community-driven calendar contest to raise funds and spread awareness. Every dollar donated to the shelter gets the pet of your choice a vote and a better chance of becoming a model. The twelve entries with the most votes gain a spot in the calendar, and the overall winner gets to be on the cover. Last year’s winner, Tico, was a happy pitty mix photographed enjoying his hometown of Asbury Park, NJ. With the contest approaching in just a few short weeks, start planning your very own photoshoot now! High quality photography gives your pet the best chance to win, and makes their model debut as fabulous as possible. You don’t need lots of fancy equipment to get a winning shot of your pet—just good lighting, good timing, and patience! Start by setting up your “studio” in a place with lots of natural light, like a backyard, public park,

or sunny front room. You can make great shots out of lots of activities, be it your pet sitting regally or jumping up playfully towards you. Focus on getting their face looking at the camera. Remember, humans aren’t allowed in our calendar, so your pet’s face is the center of attention! Take lots of pictures so you have options when picking the best one.

Be on the lookout for our formal calendar contest announcement come September. Don’t forget to encourage your friends and family to enter as well!

The 23rd Annual Fur Ball: The Great Catsby By: Emmy Homan, Development Manager

foundation in partnership with Penn Vet to save the lives of hundreds of shelter animals in the Philadelphia area. One of those animals, Chicken Soup, was in attendance as our Morris Alum guest of honor. This year’s event raised over $100,000, making it the most successful event in the shelter’s history! A special thanks to all of sponsors, especially Arm & Hammer, C&R Building Supplies, Lucky Dog Studio, and 12th Street Catering for their extremely generous contributions to the evening.

On March 6th at the historic Bellevue Hotel, Morris Animal Refuge hosted our largest annual event, The Fur Ball. Over 300 supporters joined us to celebrate the roaring 2020’s for our Great Catsby themed evening. When they weren’t dancing to music provided by DJ Perry Angelozzi, guests enjoyed special 1920’s themed drinks, Prosecco Pong, a Prohibition Pull, and Puppy and Kitten cuddling, all in support of our lifesaving mission. Steve Morrision, of 93.3 WMMR, once again joined us as our emcee and provided the crowd with a fantastic program, including the presentation of the Elizabeth Morris Award for Animal Welfare Advancement. This year, the award was presented to Richard Licther for the amazing work done by his

Thank you to everyone who helped up make this night a success!

Variety is the Spice of Life: Enrichment for Our Shelter Animals By: Alisa Rubinstein, Adoptions and Behavior Coordinator Arriving at the shelter can be confusing and scary for any animal. Space is limited and they’re exposed to sights, smells, and sounds they’ve never experienced before. Although their basic needs are met, a shelter isn’t a home and animals can develop behavior issues even at the best shelters. To combat this, we launched our Shelter Enrichment Program to meet our animals’ mental health needs as well as their physical needs. “Enrichment” is anything that adds variety or choice to the environment. The best enrichment reduces boredom and creates opportunities to practice natural behaviors (e.g. hunting for cats or chewing for dogs). To animals, these activities are essential -- like getting dressed in the morning is for us! Our first major enrichment project was incorporating hiding places for our cats. Finding a secluded napping spot is part of being a cat and science backs

this up! Giving cats the option to hide builds confidence so they adjust quicker to the shelter and demonstrate more social behaviors. Without a hide spot, many cats will create their own by flipping their litter box or tearing up the paper lining of their cages. When there’s a safe place to retreat to, cats don’t feel the need to be on high alert, lowering their heart rate and improving sleep. One of our wonderful volunteers sewed privacy curtains for our cats and since the addition, we’ve noticed that our cats LOVE snoozing in their cozy cubbies. Confident cats seem to prefer napping in privacy, and coming out for attention as soon as they hear their door open. Shy cats often feel safer interacting with us from their cubbies, whether they’re accepting pets or playing with a wand toy. We’re also working on incorporating short-term fosters and field trips into our dogs’ stay

at the shelter. Getting off-site, even for an afternoon or a weekend, reduces stress in shelter dogs, adds some variety to their routine, and tells us more about how they’ll be at home. One of the first pups who went out and about was Foxy Brown, a sweet senior pittie who spent over 100 days at Morris. Foxy got to take a long walk to a local pet supply store and pick out a new stuffed toy. On the way she encountered lots of new sights and smells (including a storefront display of flowers that she spent a few minutes investigating). After picking her toy, she proudly held it in her mouth on the entire walk back to Morris! In this way we let our animals’ personalities shine and make the best matches for our adopters! We’re excited to continue adding to our enrichment program and improving the welfare of animals in our care!

Volunteer Spotlight : Bettie Kilkelly By: Carly Gove, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator had my teenage son volunteering for a Pittsburgh animal shelter, so when I moved here and learned that the first animal shelter of the US was right around the corner from me it was a no-brainer to sign up for volunteering! What attracted you to volunteering with animals? I grew up with dogs, and always been around farm animals in my Morris Animal Refuge has youth, just love to take care of hundreds of volunteers actively them! I had multiple cats, dogs, working to support the shelter rabbits, and a gecko in my every day. People help out in all household. All were very kinds of ways, but no matter their welcome and very dear to me. niche, volunteers allow us to You help out a lot at our puppy expand our functioning and better provide for our animals for transports. Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s like? however long they’re with us. This summer, we’re I love to assist with the puppy recognizing long-time volunteer transports as the pups are just so Bettie Kilkelly as one of our MVVs frightened, and really need a (Most Valuable Volunteers!). patient, calm person to handle Bettie has been volunteering with them. Also assisting the Morris for years, helping out veterinarian is one of my favorite dozens if not hundred of animals parts, as again I try to calm the in need along the way. You pups down for what is coming, all might recognize her from one of for the good! I used to assist a our many events, from her work farmer with his cows, birthing with our transport puppies, or included, so I am confident, and from her own incredible work in the pups feel this. the city. Get to know her even What’s your favorite part about better by checking out the volunteering with Morris? interview she gave to Morris for this newsletter! Favorite part of volunteering is the look in the eyes of the pups, When did you get started with or cats, to know they feel taken Morris? care of and loved! Also the staff I moved from Pittsburgh to is just fabulous, tons of hard work, Philadelphia 4 years ago, and and dedication, big thank you to

all of you! You might not hear it being said many times, but you do a fabulous job! Do you have any pets? What are they like? As I always took in every body's pets after they did not want them anymore for whatever reasons, I decided I once in my life I wanted to raise the puppy my Dad had always wanted to raise, a Dutch Partridge dog who I named Drent. Sadly, he passed away only 3 weeks after moving to Philadelphia due to cancer of the spleen. He was my buddy through thick and thin, and my heart was broken. After so many animals I have loved in my life, and had to say goodbye to, I am to the point that I cannot handle another goodbye. More motivation to assist the Morris Animal Refuge at any time, in any way!

The Refuge is always looking for dedicated and animal loving volunteers, like Bettie, to join our team! Interested in volunteering? Fill out an application on our website,

Events in the Age of COVID-19 By Sarah Meding, Development & Events Coordinator What happens when a litter of adoptable puppies show up to your Saturday afternoon yoga class? How about when you learn your workplace is hosting adoptable cats and dogs during lunch to help break up your day? Events are so important for engaging with our supporters, raising lifesaving funds, and finding forever homes for our animals. Puppy yogas and adoption events are just two examples of community, adoption, educational, and fundraising events that we hosted this past year. So far during our ‘19-’20 fiscal year, we hosted over 50 in-person events with a variety of community supporters, raising over $44,000 for the refuge! While we had many more in-person events planned for this year, we cancelled all in-person events now and for the indefinite future due to COVID-19. As a result, we had to brainstorm how to continue to highlight adoptable animals, raise funds, and engage with our community from home. With some creativity and continued support from our Morris family, we were able to transition our events online!

In-person puppy yogas became virtual yoga and fitness classes taught by various community fitness partners including Jessica Macaluso, Emily Tara Sabalbaro, and Zakti Fitness and Bodyworks. In-person adoption events became kitten supply drives to prepare for an influx of kittens this spring. One especially exciting online event was our Pawcasso Roulette event. Amazing volunteer artists recreated 110 photos of your pets in their own artistic style, raising $2,200 for the refuge and creating amazing one of a kind pet portraits for our community! The shutdown resulting from COVID-19 pushed us into a new world - one that is predominately virtual. With events being such a big part of our identity and mission to not only find homes for homeless animals, but be a part of our community, we are so proud and excited about how our events have gone both online and inperson this year. Since closing the refuge, we have hosted 12 online events and campaigns raising over $17,000! Thank you to our community!

Interested in holding an event with Morris Animal Refuge? Email Sarah at

Final Thoughts by Lewis Checchia, Executive Director Thank you to our community for your constant support! We continuously strive to improve the lives of the animals in our care and we could not do it without the dedication of our staff, fosters, donors, volunteers, and our community. So far in 2020, your support has allowed us to take in 325 animals and have already placed 276 of them in forever homes! This success would not be possible without each and every person that supports the Morris Animal Refuge. Many people have been asking how can we help during this time of uncertainty. At Morris, we are committed to continuing our mission of saving lives regardless of the obstacles that get thrown into our path. We cannot do that without your support!

Please consider making a donation today using the enclosed envelope or by going to our website,


Want to help us continue this lifesaving work? Make a donation at