Sunday, January 25, 2015

How Can I Help Animals Today?

As someone who loves animals, it breaks my heart to think of the cruelty inflicted upon them each and every day around the world. If you are reading this blog, chances are you feel the same way. The problem is so big and each one of us is so small, right? Well, yes, but small doesn't mean insignificant or powerless. There is so much each one of us can do to make a difference for animals individually and collectively. To read a report of some of the progress made in 2013 alone, check out "Accomplishments" on the website of the #Humane Society of the United States. Good stuff is happening out there!

In this post I will share some suggestions for concrete actions you can take to help animals. Many are ideas you will already have thought of but hopefully you will also see some new ideas to inspire you to take action. I encourage everyone to add to my list by sharing your ideas in the comment section.

* First, the obvious: Donate money. You can give to your local animal shelter, the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, a wildlife rehabilitation center, etc. There are lots of great organizations out there but do your research before making a donation. Make sure you know what percent of donations go directly towards helping animals.

* Volunteer at your local shelter. Shelters need volunteers to clean cages, feed and water the animals, take dogs for walks, give baths, and much more.

* Talk with your children or grandchildren about the importance of treating animals with compassion. Teach children that treating others the way we want to be treated includes animals, not just people.

* One of the most important things you can do: Call your legislators on the local, state, and federal levels and let them know you vote pro-animal... and then do it! This is especially important if there is an upcoming vote on a bill pertaining to animal welfare. If our law makers realize that a large portion of their constituency is made up of people who want more humane treatment of animals and will show up at the polls to vote accordingly, they are much more motivated to vote pro-animal. But how will they know if we don't tell them? The importance of these calls cannot be underestimated.

* Spread the message that buying from a pet shop or online is what keeps puppy mills operating. It doesn't make sense to constantly be adding to the population of puppies and kittens when thousands upon thousands are euthanized in shelters each year. Nationwide, more than a quarter of dogs in shelters are purebreds and there are countless breed-specific rescue groups so there is no reason to buy a puppy from a pet store. Lab rescue, golden rescue, pug rescue, boxer rescue... try Googling rescue groups for your favorite breed and I bet you'll be amazed at what you discover.

* Sign petitions that demand better treatment of animals. If nothing else, it shows that there is an enormous community of animal advocates...and our numbers are growing!

* Use your own unique skills or job to make a difference. I am a high school Spanish teacher and I decided to use my position to take a group of students to Puerto Rico to volunteer at #Saveasato, the organization that rescued my dog from the streets as a puppy. The trip was such a hit that we went back the following year with nearly twice as many participants. Not only did we bring five puppies back that were quickly adopted into loving homes, but there are now twelve students and three other adults who have seen firsthand the plight of street dogs on the island and their knowledge will be passed on to others.

Be creative! If you are in advertising or marketing you could offer your skills to an organization that helps animals. Librarian? Set up a display of books on animals and include information about how kids can help them. If you are retired, you could volunteer to read a book from the perspective of an adopted shelter dog or cat to an elementary school class. If you are a teacher, you could do a class project to learn about a specific topic pertaining to animal welfare and have it culminate in a fundraiser. I could go on and on but you get the idea. Think outside the box!

* Visit,, or other online stores that sell products with animal friendly messages. I love wearing my "Rescued is my favorite breed" t-shirt because it spreads a message that is important to me and it has been the catalyst for many great conversations.

The possibilities of how we can each make a difference are endless! I hope you have gotten some inspiration to #takeactionforanimals and will share your ideas with the rest of us.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another Great Quote

"Whoever said money can't buy happiness has never paid an adoption fee." -- Author unknown

(Pictured is Rico, a dog rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico by Save a Sato. He hit the jackpot!)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

National Mill Dog Rescue: Rescuing Dogs From Misery

I have been planning to dedicate a post to this group ever since I started my blog. They are one of my favorite organizations and if I lived anywhere near Colorado Springs, I would love to work as a volunteer. From Connecticut I support NMDR in the small ways that I can from afar-- by publicizing their work, making donations when I have a little extra money, and donating items to their online auctions.

According to their website (, the mission of NMDR is "To rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry." Located in Colorado Springs, CO., NMDR takes two trips per month to rescue 70+ dogs per month. Most of these are breeder dogs who have been bred over and over again until they are no longer able to produce puppies. At this point they become a burden rather than a source of profit and are either sold at auction or killed.

The best way to explain the commercialized dog breeding industry (puppy mills) is to equate it to any other operation that breeds livestock to earn a living. Dogs? Livestock? That is how they are treated in this industry. The purpose of a puppy mill is to sell puppies for profit: the more puppies, the more profit. Puppies coming from puppy mills typically have had very little human interaction, have been fed low quality food, and are often genetically inferior due to inbreeding.

There are currently more than 5,000 licensed puppy mills in the United States and there are estimated to be thousands more without a license that have managed to operate undetected. The conditions in puppy mills are often so poor that most people would consider it to be animal cruelty. However, under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) many of these conditions are within the scope of the law. In fact, the minimum standards are so low that they are just enough to keep most animals alive. I would argue that the minimum standards should be humane standards.

No matter how hard they work, the National Mill Dog Rescue cannot save all the dogs living in these inhumane conditions. They do everything they possibly can but until there are no more puppy mills, there will be dogs living in misery. Thank you to Theresa Strader and everyone at NMDR for making the world a better place, one dog at a time.

Please take a moment to learn about NMDR by watching this short video and visiting their website.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I See a Soul

I think this is how every animal rescuer feels. I wish I knew who created this so I could give them appropriate credit.