Dear rescue friends,
I am about to suggest something radical. Now bear with me – I think you’ll like this.
Lately, I’ve noticed that more of us are becoming politically involved in protesting the puppy sellers, trying to shut down pet stores selling mill bred animals, trying to get laws passed that better protect the animals. I’ve also noticed how many of us only know each other online. We may speak every day on Facebook, and still have never met in person.
Last Sunday, I had a houseful of rescuers who all came together to help raise money to support Zoe the Dachshund’s veterinary care. They came in groups, and the people in each group knew OF the people in the other groups, but in most cases had never met face to face. It was fantastic to bring us all together in one room, and it’s something we should do more often.
So here is my radical suggestion.
If we want Montgomery County to ban the roadside puppy sellers, then every single rescuer in the county needs to show up at the appropriate meetings to encourage county officials to pay attention to us. Imagine the reaction of the county political machine if they showed up for a meeting and two hundred rescuers and animal welfare workers walked in to support our position.
If we want the puppy sellers to be so uncomfortable in our county that they leave, then we continue the protests Rosanna started. And to be at our most effective, we show up at multiple locations all at once. If we were to send organized teams of ten to fifteen protesters to six or eight different locations all at exactly the same time, we could really disrupt their nasty little business.
Every animal welfare proponent on Facebook (and there are a lot of us) knows the value of networking. We all have dozens of other animal welfare people friended into our pages, and we all laugh about how the “non-animal” people think it’s weird that we spend so much time on FB posting pictures of animals and talking about the intricacies of the animals’ lives.
The flip side is that far too many of us never leave the comfort of Facebook to network in person. Many of us freely admit that we prefer the company of our dogs and cats to that of most people. Some of us may not have great social skills, or we may think that other people can handle all that political junk while we do the urgent hands-on work of caring for animals.
As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for us?”
Networking with other animal welfare people online is great, and it can be incredibly useful. It’s how we find rides for animals that need to get to safety, it’s how we warn each other about bad adopters, it’s how we recruit foster homes and donations. We refer each other to the best vets for our needs, we make recommendations about training tips, and we celebrate the milestones our most fragile animals make as they recover.
But we tend to do our online networking around trips to the shelter, vet visits, dog walks, dog baths, house cleaning, laundry, and the 800 other urgent chores that come with caring for pets (especially the very young or special needs ones).
And the longterm goal of truly changing the system falls through the cracks.
Rosanna’s protest got me thinking, and then having that group of women here on Sunday brought home to me with total clarity how powerful we can be if we all work together.
Let’s REALLY give the puppy millers, roadside vendors, and lawmakers something to think about. Let’s stand up TOGETHER and show Montgomery County how many of us are willing to fight for the animals. We need the puppy millers, sellers, and lawmakers to view us as a cohesive force, not as a few puppy huggers.
If we all set aside our egos, personal differences, reluctance to speak in public, and all those other little things that get in the way, we really can change animal welfare forever.
And the animals deserve that.