Welcome to Paws4Change. The name of my website and my advocacy work is an intentional play on words. My hope is to help educate you on some basic animal welfare concepts and lead you to subject matter experts who can help you explore topics in more detail. The hope is that you will pause to think and then perhaps change some of your previously held beliefs.
So, why do I have this website and why do I do this? It all really boils down to five words that changed my life. Words have the capacity for incredible power over us. Most of us have heard things in our lives that just stuck for one reason or another. Such is the case for me and five words I heard in July of 2006.
Our Shepherd-mix was 16 when we let her go. She had become trapped in a body which no longer worked well and when she developed some cognitive issues, that meant it was time. After she left, I didn't do well. I felt lost. I started donating supplies to my local animal shelter once a month in an effort to turn a loss into something positive as I honored the memory of my girl. I knew at the time that animals died in the shelter. Like most people, I assumed they were suffering or we had a pet overpopulation problem and we just could not save them all.
All that changed in mid-July when I was on the shelter's website. I ran across a video promoting the shelter and it got to a point where a dog was being walked from a kennel to a room. Tail wagging. A look of anticipation on his face. It took a matter of seconds for me to realize what was going on. The video didn't show the act of taking his life, that I know of. I could not stop the video fast enough as my heart pounded in my ears and I began to lose my breath. I later told the shelter director how offensive I found the video and I asked if the dog was really destroyed. She said:
nobody wants beagles these days
For all the emotion behind the words, she could just as easily have said, "old couches get destroyed" or "broken tables go to the dump."
I got upset and then I got mad and then I got smart and learned why this was happening not only at my local shelter but across the country. I learned about mills and breed bans and chaining and TNR and something wonderful called the no kill movement. And now instead of taking dog biscuits or dryer sheets to my "shelter" each month, I am an advocate for change and that his how I honor my beloved dog girl.
I hope you learn something from my website and that it will help you make better choices in the future, whether they relate to your own companion animals or whether they relate to actions you take to promote change in our society.
(image courtesy of Dana Kay Mattox Deutsch)
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson