Rescuing the dog or rescuing yourself?
I know a man, intelligent with a graduate degree, he is a serial animal rescuer. He has personally rescued, through fostering, 50 dogs. All the same breed, at anytime he harbors 6 - 7 dogs in his home. He is a great guy and one that cares nothing for Nathan Winograd, gassing, puppy mills or the annual ritual killing of 4,000,000 dogs and cats. You cannot convince him to do anything more but rescue this one breed of dog. When pushed to respond why, he retorts with 'volunteerism has always been a mutually satisfactory engagement'. Meaning he derives 'no satisfaction' from helping save the lives of disparate breeds of dogs in Tennessee or Georgia, just one breed, one dog at a time, up close and personal.
If people such as my friend, with the capacity to love the animals and the wherewith to put a plan of action into play won't care about the sad creatures awaiting death, is our movement doomed? On a recent postmortem conference call with this organizations leading members, the response was a resounding YES! They had just conducted a month long membership drive, they had pulled all the stops, contacted maybe 100,000 animal lovers in the aggregate. The result summed into one sentence, 'they cared more about themselves than the animals'. The frustration was oozing from our Leads as they gave example after example of how others in the movement had been, jealous, territorial, derogatory, viewing them as competition rather than partner. The call became so gloomy, I desperately searched for 'good news' in order to cull the disappointment and fatigue.
I recall an interview I conducted with Richard Avanzino, President of Maddie's Fund, the only organization in animal welfare that had coffers in excess of $100 million. Mr. Avansino said during a live broadcast interview 'all the major organization, including this one, have their own agendas. They will almost never work together because it is the furthering of those agendas that is of prime importance'. While Mr. Avanzino was speaking of the large organizations, the statement applies equally to every group, every rescue, every SPCA in the country. They all hate each other!
Look at my good friend Nathan Winograd, competent, intelligent, shepherd of the so called 'No Kill Movement'. He espouses a solution entitled 'The No Kill Equation' and he points the finger of our animal dysfunction directly at ASPCA, HSUS and PETA! Those three leading organizations and Nathan hate each other. Nathan, who has the backing of thousands of rescuers around the country, has alienated his followers from the big three. The big three resent him for it, the two sides never work together, constantly pointing fingers at each other. The dogs and cats keep being killed.
What about the organization with the most money, thus the greatest ability to do good, Maddie's Fund. They have their own formula; push the unwanted dogs further down the line, out of the shelters into the hands of the rescues. So they pay rescues to 'pull' dogs on death row from shelters. Does it matter that the rescue model is flawed at it's roots, that the poorly managed, financially strapped rescues could NEVER take on the burden of all the unwanted dogs and cats in America. NO! Being desperate for money, the rescues take on more than they can handle, just to get the funds. And since Maddies also makes reciprocal payments to kill shelters that numerically reduce their kill rates, the city funded shelters, always in lack of funding, lie, fudge and half truth their way into achieving whatever nonsense Maddie's sets as a standard for gaining the funds.
Recently Maddie's announced that they would give $2,000 for each old dog pulled from a shelter if done within a certain window of time (two days). Immediately entire web site collaborations arose giving advice on how to get the 'maximum' Maddie's money. Rescues stopped pulling altogether and left cages empty for weks, waiting for the magic time window to arrive. Is this rush of funds going to do anything good, no, it will once again go down the bottomless pit. The system can only absorb so many pets!
Everyone just pushes their own personal agendas, hateful and resentful of newcomers that won't follow in their footsteps. The question thus arises, why? Our viewpoint is that the animal problem is unsolvable because the people that care the most care most about themselves. Their efforts are primarily 'animal therapy' for a childless life, a failed marriage or plain loneliness. A side effect of this 'therapy' is that a few animals get saved, while millions die!
I was privy to this dynamic first hand when in 2007, as a newbie to animal welfare, I made a $2,000 donation to our local SPCA and $500 to a small rescue. A year hence, as founder of The Buddy Fund, I contacted them asking for their help in our first ever fundraising drive. I didn't want money donations (as I had given them), I simply asked that they circulate our event to their members. My quid pro quo assumption was rudely awakened by the crude and cruel world of animal welfare. The request wasn't even responded to, probably ending up in the garbage heap!
During a recent conversation with another serial rescuer, she informed me that the rescues were responsible for reducing the number of animals killed in the US from 28,000,000 in 2001 to 4,000,000 today. When asked where she had gathered the statistics from, as there are NO reporting standards or requirements whatsoever in the US now, let alone more than a decade ago, she quipped I go and do something useful with my life.
This petty dysfunction is only true in the animal venue. Consider an MS (multiple sclerosis) volunteer, would they consider being judgmental about what doctor is doing what research? Even worse, would they just branch off and start a MS treatment lab of their own? Ridiculous, they quietly and with great respect follow the national MS organization and the research institutions that are conducting the therapies. However in the domain of the animals, everyone is a king, anybody can get his/her hands dirty and deal with life and death. Some even relish the God power and grant life or death on their victims, all with no reprisal.
I had to tell the story of my one breed fixated friend during our postmortem conference call, as so many of the dedicated were asking 'why', 'why', 'why'. There is no answer, our animals are relegated to the lowest levels of our human constituency. There are extraordinary individuals that do not suffer from the self interested, megalomaniac drive of so many. We at AnimalsVote must sift through thousands of people to find just one of these unique beings and slowly build an army never before seen in the annals of animal welfare. The sifting process will take a very long time, one in three thousand (our current ratio) is a difficult ratio to combat, but then the animals have such noble patience.