Sacramento, CA (May 12, 2006) – Nicole Forsyth, president and CEO of Sacramento-based United Animal Nations (UAN), today joined a distinguished group of international animal welfare experts for a week-long online forum on avian influenza.
Forsyth will contribute a blog to an online forum sponsored by Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society; her blog will debunk some myths associated with avian influenza, specifically the highly pathogenic strain H5N1, and provide practical information for individuals who have chickens as pets.
Through its volunteer-driven Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS), UAN provides temporary sheltering and relief to animals displaced by natural or man-made disasters. With more than 2,600 trained volunteers nationwide, UAN is prepared to temporarily shelter animals if necessary during a bird flu outbreak.
“We don’t expect the bird flu to reach disastrous proportions, but as the nation’s leading provider of emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services, we always advocate preparedness,” Forsyth said. “We want people to know the facts about bird flu so they are not caught unaware if the disease does put animals at risk.”
Forsyth’s blog recommends precautions for individuals to limit the spread of avian influenza, such as:
- Hand-washing with soap or detergent before and after exposure to birds or other animals that have been around birds
- Using good sanitation practices in the care of backyard chickens, ducks or other birds, including the use of dedicated clothing and boots for entering coops
- Covering outdoor chicken coops with a protective cover or net, especially if water sources with high numbers of waterfowl are nearby
- Keeping cats indoors and dogs on leashes to prevent contact with birds
“Many people in Northern California have chickens as pets because they are highly trainable and interactive; they eat insects and pull up weeds; and they provide an alternative to purchasing eggs from battery-caged hens,” Forsyth said.
“These people shouldn’t be overly concerned about the avian flu, but they should take precautions.”
Forsyth’s blog also debunks the belief that banning outdoor free-range poultry farming is a necessary precaution. “Moving chickens indoors may not be enough to stop the spread of viruses,” she said. “Using proper sanitation techniques and carefully controlling who and what goes in and out of enclosures is the best way to prevent avian flu from spreading.”
The online bird flu forum will run from May 14 to May 21 at network.bestfriends.org/birdflu. Other participants include S. Chinny Krishna, President of Blue Cross of India; Gene Bauston, co-founder of Farm Sanctuary; Merritt Clifton, Editor of Animal People; and Eileen McCarthy, founder and CEO of Midwest Avian Adoption & Rescue Services, Inc.
About UAN: Now celebrating its 20th year, United Animal Nations (UAN) is North America’s leading provider of emergency animal sheltering and disaster relief services and a key advocate for the critical needs of animals.