This morning at BlowPaws we were treated to an inspirational keynote speaker. I simply cannot express how amazing Mike Arms of the Helen Woodward Animal Center is.... I am a changed person just for sitting and listening to him. Mike is the president of the Animal Center in San Diego and has visionary ideas for how we can ALL create positive change in the lives of animals.
Mike is passionate about saving animal lives and has strong words for those of us who want to join him in his quest. The animal overpopulation crisis in our nation is reaching a point that is almost insurmountable. Shelters are overrun with pets that are just as valuable as the pets in your home. Humans receive an incredible gift from animals in that they have undying compassion for us and it is time for humans to realize this. It is impossible for us to ever emulate the compassion these animals give us so it is our responsibility to get into the business of saving lives. How much more can these animals give to us before we step up?
Mike had most of the room in tears today while speaking of the crisis. He pointed out the oxymoron of the shelter industry in that it is the ONLY industry that asks people to destroy what they love the most. These individuals enter the profession because they want to DO something. They want to improve the lives of homeless animals, and they are left having to kill them. The current system is not working and needs change. Fast.
Think for example of the animal control officers in Puerto Rico. More than 120 animals are brought in on a DAILY basis and it is the job of the manager to identify the THREE animals that are saved. THREE out of ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY. Something is very wrong with this picture. In Houston, shelters are operating at 200-300% capacity and can’t keep up.
It simply is not enough anymore to say that you love animals. It’s not enough to donate a dollar. It’s time for you to CARE about them. They have our hearts, they need our brains. It’s time for us to treat the industry like a business and change the way things are done. It’s a shame that more energy goes into marketing a soft drink bottle or a candy bar than a homeless dog.
Several decades ago there were “Old Folks Homes”. That conjured up awful images of abuse and neglect so now there are “Assisted Living” complexes. We don’t have “orphanages” anymore, they are child welfare institutions. You don’t have garbage trucks and dumps, you have waste management facilities. Yet.... we still have animal shelters and dog pounds.
There needs to be a categorical shift amongst the shelters in our country to establish ANIMAL CENTERS like The Helen Woodward Animal Center . At the HWAC, there are not mixed breeds, but blends. Terrier blends, Labrador blends, Spaniel blends, etc. There’s no 2-for-1 adoptions or low-cost or free adoptions because these animals are VALUED. They have the highest costs for adoptions in the area, and yet they still do an order of magnitude more adoptions than any other facility in California.
The point that Mike made to all of us is that it is time to use our intelligence over our hearts to reach out to our country and effect positive change in the lives of homeless animals. We need to have new ideas and new direction. And... we need to start focusing on solutions. (SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS!) I'll have more thoughts and comments on all of this soon.....
Mike has inspired me to think out of the box in my quest to help the animals that can’t help themselves and I hope you will to! I am on my way to the BE THE CHANGE event here at BlogPaws and I can’t wait to update you on even more exciting things happening in the animal welfare community.