Responsible Animal Guardian Month - May 2011
"What are you doing for Responsible Animal Guardian Month?"
We asked and really appreciate the heartfelt stories you shared. Here is a selection of your responses to our question. We are pleased that so many of you are going out of your way to help animals not only during May, but year round.
Our names are Brandon Yanak and Alyssa Andel. We are volunteer animal activists based in and around Cleveland, Ohio. In late September 2010, we founded a program called the Neighborhood Friend of the Week (NFW) on the Neighborhood sites of 19ActionNews.com, Cleveland’s news leader. The NFW features new adoptable animals throughout Northeast Ohio every week. The goal of the program is to help the thousands of abandoned animals in this area find devoted homes and forever guardians. Since the program's initiation, 75 featured animals have been adopted.
Every NFW article reflects guardian language to better reflect the true love that exists between animals and their adopters and in the continued hopes to inspire all people to treat animals with the love, care, and respect they deserve. In Animal Guardian Month 2011 alone, we have seen 13 more NFW featured animals adopted. If you are still looking for something to do during this guardian month, we recommend contacting your own local media and starting a program that features adoptable animals in your area. It is truly a rewarding experience to help your local animals in need find their forever guardians. If you would like to contact us further or have questions, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com.
Brandon Yanak and Alyssa Andel
I'm going to DC for a month to do a work detail. I'm going to do my part for "Responsible Animal Guardian Month" by bringing Ursa with me even though I have to drive, not fly (at my own expense) and also have to pay a $300 fee at my apartment. But Ursa will be able to go to the National Mall and make her mark :-). Here we are pictured before our departure yesterday.
Santa Cruz, CA
As a humane educator, my mission is to teach children how to protect and enjoy companion animals. In my school visits, I ask students, "Do you know what a guardian does?". Most children understand that a "guardian" protects and nurtures, unlike "ownership" which means that we can take the item or leave it, use it or forget about it. The included photo is of one of my classes in which I explained those differences and then used only the term "guardian" for the rest of the class.
Donna Forst, M.A., CHES (Certified Humane Education Specialist)
Me and my daughter Minka are the guardians of two dogs and two cats. Of the four fur kids, three are rescues. None were adopted from animal shelters, but rather came to us in dire circumstances. Kasper, my daughter's elderly wolf hybrid, came as a pup just two days before Christmas. He was abandoned, starving, and cold. At five months old, our little Jack Russell/Dachshund, Mr. Rutgar, came out of a puppy mill where he was being horribly abused. Minka's cat, Bassaht, was saved from being fed to a dog who was given excess kittens to kill and devour. This was one uncaring local person's way of controlling the cat population on his rural property.
Suki, is the newest feline member of our family. He came when we tragically lost Minka's beautiful tabby, Modesto. Somehow he had managed to slip out the door late one night and was killed and eaten by coyotes which prompted me to write the included article that was published in our local papers during this month of May.
The accompanying photo is of my daughter, Minka, her dog Kasper, me (the old one) and my little fur kid, Mr. Rutgar. Bassaht and Suki, the cats, were being uncooperative.
Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada
I am 62 years old and retired. I have spent the last five years learning the animal welfare rules and laws of my state to stop animal shelter abuse. I also write thousands of letters on behalf of all animals. I understand deeply that I am a voice for them.
I use my days wisely. Time is short, and I plan to keep advocating for animals till my last breath. I call animal abusers on their abuse; whomever and wherever they exist.
A simple thing I do when I take my nature walks around a park is to stop and talk to people. I offer statistics about shelter euthanasia, how it is done, how farm animals die, etc. Most people are shocked, feel uncomfortable and walk away. But I keep planting seeds wherever I go. I make people think long and hard about the pain and suffering animals must endure on earth.
I am the guardian of my 12 year old dog, Livvy, who is with me in the photo included.
I always cross out "owner" and write in "guardian" at my vet's office when they have me fill out forms. I never use the term "owner" anymore! My two cats, Jane and William, are pictured here cuddling.
This month of May, as well as every Saturday of every month during the last two years, I've volunteered at my local shelter. When my seventeen year old tortie passed away, I was devastated; however, one week later while cleaning out cat cages, I kept feeling a smack on my head. Looking up, I saw this gorgeous Maine Coon mix with outstretched paws trying to get my attention. Getting closer to her cage, she cupped my face in her gigantic paws. When I opened the cage, still teary-eyed from the prior week, this wondrous feline retracted her massive claws and gently patted my tears dry and started head-butting me and purring. How could I resist? The ironic twist to this story is that she had been at the shelter twice before. The first time she was surrendered with a litter of kittens; the second time she was surrendered because her adopted guardian became gravely ill and could no longer keep her. Although I knew she would become my next companion, I waited one week to be sure it was the right move. I was convinced when I walked by her cage and heard her thunderous meow that sounded like "MUMMA!" I've included Abby's picture.
I am the guardian of two indoor cats who were adopted from a shelter in Oak Park. . Buddy and Tigger are the loves of my (and my husband's) life. I also feed outdoor cats. One is Sophie, a small Russian Gray.. I did a spay and release on her. Another is Milo, a black and white cat with a missing ear who I've not been able to trap. I'm trying desperately to catch him since he keeps getting into fights with other cats. He needs to be neutered.
Six years ago, I rescued a different feral cat in my neighborhood. Bear is a beautiful black cat with the sweetest personality. When I took him in to get checked, I found out he has FIV. Cats with FIV can live long, healthy lives and are not as infectious as those with Feline Leukemia. Regardless, I spent two hours calling all shelters in my area and the response was the same: They would put Bear down and would not accept him at any shelter.
One of my cats is very territorial. This cat would not accept Bear. My mother, bless her, ended up keeping Bear. Her other black cat, Inky, was much older and very indifferent to Bear at first but soon they were chasing each other. They lived a peaceful co-existence until Inky had to be put down last year. Bear is a healthy eight year old and is an affectionate cat and the favorite of my mother's vet's office. It's hard to believe such a sweet soul would have been laid to rest without a chance at life. Thanks to my mom, he had that chance. I've included his photo.
Last July my husband was thinking about adopting a dog. I didn't want to do the puppy thing. I looked on Petfinder and found Max. We went to see him and paid for his adpotion. Max turned out to be heartworm positive. We didn't know what we were going to do, but we didn't request our money back. The vet there wouldn't release him until we knew where we would have him treated. Max stayed at the pound for another 2 weeks until we found a vet about 45 minutes away from us who would charge something we could afford.
Max has now been heartworm negative since September and on monthly heartworm meds. He has gained weight to about 95 lbs. He was meant to be here as we have three other dogs, eight cats, three horses and a 6 year old son who gets along well with all of them. Max will always have forever guardians here with us.
The girls came to us one at a time. We'd had our male lab, Cutter, for almost six years as a very indulged 'only child' companion to us when it starting occurring to me that we'd always been the guardians of two labs in the past and I figured we could support one more mouth to feed. It would be fun for Cutter to have someone to hang out with who spoke his language, so to speak. So I searched through Petfinder for the shelters throughout Wisconsin where we live for a female black lab, and happened upon the photo of Minnie. When I called the shelter, and learned she'd been basically confined to a cage from 8 weeks old to her present age of 6 months old and having only short walks and playtime, my heart ached for her. We took the two hour road trip to see her, bringing Cutter along to make sure he would accept her and vice versa. Well, long story short, Mizzen, as she's now called, has settled into our family.
I hadn't meant to adopt again, but when I saw the photo posted on Facebook of the little blue tic/black lab pup named "Baby" in the high kill shelter in TX, I shared and shared but no one was stepping forward to adopt her. The expression on that face broke my heart. I learned that black labs are rampant in the Southern shelters and many many wind up being killed in overcrowded shelters due to the stigma black dogs carry. A friend steered me to two animal transport sites and even though I figured the odds were impossible, two days later two pilots made the route possible. They went out of their way to take this little starving pup out of the shelter, keeping her in their homes, giving up weekend time and driving her right into Wisconsin, as the weather did not permit their flying. I drove the same two hours on a rainy February day to the same city we'd picked up Mizzen in. This pup was in rough shape and because she'd been so malnourished, the trip almost did her in, but had she stayed in TX she'd most certainly have been dead already. It took a couple of weeks of nursing her back, but this little girl had the will. Galley, as we've called her because of her intense love of our kitchen, has proved to be exceptionally bright and is a fast learner who is full of affection and mischief and one whom I can't imagine living without.
Anyway, I cannot tell you how much these two girls have given us in love, and laughter, and exercise (lol)! They've taught us more than we have them, I think. I could never again promote backyard breeding by buying a dog from some ad in the paper when there are hundreds of dogs being killed in ONE shelter alone each month! Thousands are in shelters across the country and are just as adorable as my girls are, and are having their lives cut short for no other reason than irresponsible people that don't neuter or spay their pets, or people who take a companion animal without making a lifelong commitment to being a responsible guardian.
When the campaign first started, I didn't honestly get it how a simple change in semantics could make a difference, but now after reading these wonderful stories and hearing the reasons for using the term explained by all these loving individuals I have come to understand why this campaign is so important. I hope it will change people's treatment of animals if they can be made to see themselves as guardians and understand all the responsibility that goes with this role.
Bless you guys, thank-you for everything you are doing for the animals.