There she is again on our television screens. Sad Sarah Mclachlan representing the ASPCA singing her sad song with puppy dog and kitten faces staring at you. Making you feel like animal cruelty is an insurmountable problem. We might as well all just throw up our hands in despair and give up. Or better yet, run and grab our checkbook and write a big fat check to the ASCPA because they can ward off all those evil people in the world that would harm pets. It's a pretty grim picture they paint. I see that the HSUS is sending out a similar television message also.
We are evil, evil people. Not to be trusted with animals. Animals are better off in shelters where there is a good chance they will get sick or be killed when their time is up. The public is so irresponsible. Or are they? Who does this perception serve? It certainly doesn't serve animals well. It serves the pocketbooks of the large organizations. Even though the statistics clearly show that more and more Americans are making pets valued members of the family, they prefer to ignore that and paint the sordid picture of pet overpopulation and animal cruelty.
In reality, the numbers are showing that the majority of animals that need our help are the pit bulls, pit bull mixes and feral cats. Yet you don't see their pictures in the television ads. It's the cute puppies and kittens we see. Why don't the television ads tell the truth and the good news about the kindness of most people? My guess - Why kill the goose that laid the golden egg? The longer the charade goes on, the longer the money will pour in.
This attitude of mistrust can permeate down to our local shelters and rescues also. Overly restrictive adoption policies; judgmental shelter staff and volunteers; and the big red flag - shelter staff that say they like animals better than people. Yikes. Probably time for a new job for those folks. Better yet, screen them out from the start. If I was hiring I'd never hire anybody who said they liked animals more than people. Because we need people to adopt, foster, reclaim and volunteer with animals. Does your shelter and staff harbor an attitude of mistrust? Or do they embrace the public and trust them?
Here is the truth. The figures are out. Americans spent $2 billion more on their pets in 2010 than in 2009. That money came from the average, normal pet loving public with kids, a job, a family pet and a lifestyle that may not be immersed in animal welfare like ours is.
Pet lovers abound everywhere. We need to seek them out and recruit them. There are construction workers, lawyers, health care providers, teachers and salespeople that love pets. There are Democrats, Republicans and Independents that love pets. There are people of all religions, races and cultures that love pets. There are farmers, fishermen, hunters, meat eaters, and heaven forbid - yes, even dog breeders that love pets.
Don't make these people part of the problem. Make them part of the solution. Include them - don't exclude them. The basic premise of the No Kill philosophy begins with the fact that the public can and should be trusted.
Yes, there are cruel people. And we need to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. But the vast majority of Americans are good, hardworking, honest people that love animals. Go out and find them and welcome them. They are our yellow dots. They are the ones we need to get onboard our bus. They love pets and we need their good advice, their skills, their common sense and their support to pave the way to our No Kill goals.
One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of life. ~E.M. Forster