I have been working on a new post since New Year’s. My idea was to focus on the positive in animal welfare… and, then, this week happened. The county of Winona, MN allowed SIX permits for Amish puppy mills! I am crushed. I feel like someone stabbed me in the heart. I feel like we just went backwards 10 years!
Major cities across the U.S. are passing laws and ordinances to prevent pet stores from selling puppies who come from puppy mills and Winona, MN approves SIX more?
For 8 years I have fought passionately to rid the world of mills. I have educated and advocated until I was hoarse. What happened this week in Winona, well, it broke my heart.
It definitely made me pause and re-think my original New Year’s post – all about the positive in animal welfare.
However, I saw something else happen in the last few days… I saw so many people outraged by what Winona did. So many people being the voice for the animals. So many people who shared their personal stories about their own rescued mill dogs. So many people who want things to change.
Eight years ago, I felt very alone in this fight. Through-out my book I talk about how I didn’t think anyone else understood me. I didn’t believe anyone cared as much as I did. So, to see the many posts of strangers reaching out to help and to act IS a very positive thing. It is something to be celebrated.
In my original draft, I wanted animal advocates to realize that they are not alone. I, think, all too often, we believe we are the only ones who care, the only ones who will save them. I think, in some ways, animal welfare organizations have led us to believe that because they want us to take action. They show sad commercials of desperate animals and imply that you are their only hope.
I want to change that because I do not think it is the healthy way to look at things. It is much healthier and more productive, if we feel like we are part of a much bigger group – if we feel surrounded by people who want to change things – if we believe that we aren’t alone. If I have learned nothing else in 10 years, I have learned that there are A LOT of people out there working hard to change the lives of animals for the better.
I worry about animal people because it is easy to lose your sense of balance. Each animal matters and each situation seems dire. However, I have seen too many animal rescuers lose themselves and when that happens, no one wins.
Every single day I see posts for dogs on euth lists. Desperate cries for help. They make my stomach turn. There is no way that I could respond to each one. However, after a day goes by, I go back to the posts and I am always reminded at how many people there are fighting for the animals. There will be 100 shares and 100 comments of names and organizations willing to step up for that dog. No, sadly, not every dog gets saved, however, so many do and sooooo many people are trying.
My goal in 2016 is to make people feel good about rescue and animal welfare. I don’t want to show the hurt, injured animals anymore. I want to share the stories of reunion, the stories of transformation. The stories that show us how many good people there are out there who love animals.
We live in such a negative world. The media loves surrounding us with murder and disparity and prejudice. I want to surround people with the glory of animals and the overwhelming amount of love and kindness that is expressed each and every day to them.
Animal welfare is hard. I mean gut-wrenching hard. If you aren’t wiping tears, you are wiping pee off the floors – it is physically and emotionally demanding. Add to that the myriad of personalities you meet along the way. Many of who, do not see eye to eye with you. Animal people love animals, but they don’t always have the same forgiveness or understanding when it comes to humans.
So, while you are crying over the euthanasia list, you can also be having a screaming match on FB with someone who is also crying over the euthanasia list but firmly believes the exact opposite of you. It is a messy business.
I don’t know if I can change that, but I do think I can offer a more positive outlook. I spent the last 10 years like Eeyore – all doom and gloom. I want to focus on the positive. I want to focus on the compassion and the passion people have to help animals. Yes, what happened in Winona is an atrocity, but the reactions and the actions of the animal advocates have been truly amazing.
I say, “Cheers to animal advocacy in 2016!” We are THE most passionate group of people on this planet. We fight battles every single day with only the animals in mind – not money, not greed. We ARE a force to reckon with and I plan to celebrate that each day in 2016!