UK Registered Charity 1122246 This website would not be possible without the kind help of Tony Martin of the “AV Martin Charitable Foundation”

Mark Dosher, Foundation Company Secretary, and Jill Moss, President and Founder, flew to the USA on the 3rd April 2010 for a speaking visit to raise awareness of MRSA in animals.

MRSA seems to have developed in a quite different way in the US compared to the UK, with the predominant strains causing infections in people being community rather than hospital acquired, but the problems faced by veterinary practices, clinic and hospitals are essentially the same.

MRSA owner to cat transmission

In traveling to the United States we hoped to be able to pass on the latest information on treatment approaches and infection control as they are recommended in the UK. The Foundation’s experience shows that once the main Centers of Excellence take an issue seriously, effective information can pass quickly to independent front-line practitioners.

Given that the majority of pet owners now contacting The Foundation are American, our trip there to speak to vets and medical professionals took on added importance.

We arrived in New Jersey on 3rd April to stay with some friends and I have to thank the staff of Virgin Atlantic for taking such good care of me, especially given that I am very nervous flyer. They made the experience so good for me, and I am glad to have overcome some of my fears. A thank you so much to Monica Derchi of Amsterdam hospitality who arranged a charity discount for us to stay next door to the AMC at the Bentley Hotel.

Mark, Dr Macina, Jill at AMC, NY
Patient and staff at AMC, NY

Animal Medical Center staff

Mark, Animal Medical Center

Animal Medical Center, New York

On April 8th we addressed staff and interns at the Animal Medical Center, New York where we met with Dr Mark Macina (head dermatologist) and AMC staff. Dr Macina is the kind of vet any owner would choose; he is dedicated and passionate about infection control and prevention of the spread of diseases. The staff at AMC are dedicated to the welfare of animals and took us behind the scenes where we watched patients having physiotherapy and acupuncture treatments.

Lori and Momo

At last after four years of talking with Lori Spagnoli (who lives in New Jersey) I was finally able to meet with her face to face. Lori has helped The Foundation so much (Lori’s cat Momo has MRSA in the bladder) and Lori has become an instrumental part of The Foundation’s core helping us to raise awareness of our work in the USA. We enjoyed a vegan lunch at Angelica’s Kitchen in New York and our friendship grew as we knew it would.

Later on the 8th April we met with David Stetson from Pure Green, a major sponsor of The Foundation. Thanks to him we were able to hand out brochures to US pet owners. Pure Green LLC

Whilst in New York we spoke on the telephone with the chief executive of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation and discussed various ways in which in which the The Foundation and CHF can work together to raise awareness of MRSA among American pet owners.

Cornell Vet School

Veterinary Education Center

Cornell Vet School asked us to address vet students and pet owners at their open day on April 10th. The campus is very large and impressive and there were many lectures going on in the lecture hall whilst pet owners were able to meet with staff. We were glad to have the opportunity of doing two lectures on Saturday April 10th and the response that we had was very positive with many people thanking us for the information and grateful to have had the chance to learn more about resistant bacteria affecting companion animals.

Mark, Jill and Dr Oehler

University of South Florida Hospital

(from left) Yvonne Oehler, Jill, Dr Richard Oehler, Mark

On Sunday 11th April we travelled to Tampa Bay in Florida present our work at the University of South Florida It was a real thrill to meet with Dr Richard Oehler and his family prior to our talk, and they made us feel so welcome.

Dr Oehler attended the 2nd International conference on MRSA in animals which BMF co hosted with the American society of microbiology (September 2009). Dr Oehler and Jill spent a lot of time together and he has become a very important contact for us in human infectious diseases in the USA. Jill and Dr Oehler talk regularly and are preparing articles for the USA vet press on MRSA in companion animals. Dr Oehler has become a Foundation adviser and helps with inquires from the public about their concerns on infection control.

Dr Richard Oehler MD (University of South Florida)
“We were very excited to have Jill Moss and Mark Dosher visit Tampa on their U.S. tour. Their ‘MRSA in Animals’ presentation was held on April 12 and was well attended by the active infectious disease medical faculty, medical residents, and students of the University of South Florida. The hour-long presentation was warmly received and included a lively discussion on MRSA in livestock and the human food supply. We hope this session will inspire each of our audience members to become more involved in our shared goal of broadening awareness of this important syndrome in patients, family members, animal health professionals and medical colleagues.”

Mark and Jill planned on having four days in Tampa to relax before heading back to the UK. The new website was due to be launched in April and Mark was in the middle of a home move. What they could not have anticipated was a volcanic eruption.

Jill Moss, President and Founder, The Bella Moss Foundation
“I want to give some time now to thanking the many people who helped turn a nightmare situation into a wonderful chance to meet and get to know some very special people.

Firstly I shall never forget the unique kindness of our hotel the Tahitian Inn, Tampa Bay Florida. ALL of the staff (and I mean all of the staff), upon learning that a small charity could not go home, made us feel increadibly welcome. We were due to fly back on April 17th, but due to the suspensin of all Atlantic flights we could not return until early May. With our money running out we were saved by the  owners of the Tahitian Inn who allowed a huge discount on our enforced stay. Many people were stranded at airports, and without the help of the Tahitian  Inn we would have been amongst them.

New musical friends for Mark
Tahitian Inn Management staff

On every occasion of arriving and leaving the hotel we found the staff to be so friendly. The Tahitian Inn became our home for two more weeks whilst we waited for air space to open and flights to reconnect.

Tahitian Inn Poolside

The Tahitian Inn has a beautiful swimming pool with live music and by the pool (as I relaxed something I had forgotten to do) we met some brilliant people who took us to dinner and introduced us to friends. Mark even jammed with the resident musicians!

Please tell all of your friends how kind the staff were to us and we will go back to a hotel that forever will stay imprinted in our minds. Tahitian Inn

Dr Oehler and his wife Yvonne and their children RJ and Stephanie provided us with many lovely meals and entertainment, inviting us to their home and making us feel so welcome, it was comforting to know that we had such good friends so nearby.

Hugo and Mark

We visited Mad Dogs And Englishmen, as authentic an English pub as you might find in Florida, run by Hugo Morley, grandson of the actor Robert Morley and son of the poet, critic, broadcaster and writer Sheridan Morley. This was a true oasis of calm, and everyone was so gracious and friendly,

Clearwater Seagulls

Mark and I could not get over the way in which we were made to feel so welcome in Tampa. The weather sunny and hot (with the exception of the tropical storm that hit the city just before we left), the beaches beautiful and the people so friendly. We visited St Petersburg, St Johns Pass, Sarasota and Clearwater, which became our favourite place. Except for the SEAGULLS!  In order to economise Mark and I did not eat out so much but made packed lunches to take to the beach. One day we sit down to eat our lunch on the beach as usual and I get myself comfortable on my bed, sun cream on, hat in place, just about to bite into my delicious hummus and olive pate sandwich when whoosh!, a flock of seagulls swoop down on top of me, nipping my finger and scratching my hand and steal my sandwich from my hand! (We were later told by a local resident to eat like a chipmunk, i.e. hiding the food in your hand whilst watching around as you dare to take a bite.)

Onto larger animals and I have to say thank you to all of the theme parks who let stranded tourists in for free.

Seaworld was a disappointment with little emphasis that I could see on conservation or education, but instead on entertainment. Their resident orca whale called Takillim, which had already killed a trainer and another person, was considered too dangerous for the other trainers to get into the pool with, and looked so confined in the small space in which he head to perform. I left feeling terribly sad about the forced confinement and the public’s lack of awareness.

I did however find an aquarium in Clearwater beach which is dedicated to restoring and preserving the marine environment. They provide education and rescue and rehabilitation for injured marine life and if I could I would volunteer to work there.

The dolphin Winter

Rescued dolphins at Clearwater Aquarium

A large dolphin called Winter was caught up in a fishing net and extensive damage to his tail. Clearwater aquarium vets worked hard to save him and now he lives with a prosthetic tail with two other dolphins that were washed ashore and sunburnt unable to now be rehabilitated into the wild.

Visit to hear about the vets work and if you visit Tampa make your way to Clearwater Aquarium at 249 Windward Passage.

Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue

Staying on the theme of animal conservation whilst we were stranded BIG CAT RESCUE let Mark and me in for free. Now as president of an animal charity I know how hard it is to raise awareness of their work providing a sanctuary for all species of wild cats. You can help save lives by adopting and supporting their work. Big Cat Rescue is a charity and through their dedicated care they provide unwanted wild cats, including leopards, lions and tigers, cougars, bobcats and many more, with a permanent home. Please visit their website and become involved.

Learn where abused and abandoned cats come from and what you can do to 12802 Easy Street, Tampa FL 33625; a special thank you to the staff for allowing us to see their work for. Also if you want to learn more about advocacy work and how you can help to change legislation to preserve wild cats visit

Sunset Tampa Bay

Gorillas at Busch Gardens

Brad (manager of Tahitian Inn)

Jill with birds at Busch Gardens

Mark down to his last hundred dollar bill

So there we have it; The Foundation’s forced extended stay in Tampa was where we met some great people and made some special friends. I was sad to leave and I plan to return to see all of the friends we made and to make many more.

Special thanks to Busch Gardens for free entrance.

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