Where Do You Stand?

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

I know it’s customary to review the year, or in this case the decade, at the end but I’m not really a look-backer. Suffice to say that I hope every year is better than the last and ultimately I guess I see them as being that way either on their own merits or out of an abundance of optimism.

I hope we can save more pets in need in 2010 and I hope that fewer pets need saving. I hope more shelter workers embrace the idea of sheltering and trample the idea of killing underfoot. I hope owners who keep their dogs chained 24/7 make a space in the laundry room with a cozy old blanket for their dogs to come in at night and during bad weather. I hope every dog gets more walks and every cat gets more lap time. I hope more people get to experience the special bond between humans and pets. I hope we all have enough to eat and that we share our healthy table scraps with our pets. I hope the sick can be well again or at least have their spirits lifted by a shaggy head resting on the side of the bed. I hope we can love unconditionally, judge less and understand more.

I think 2010 is going to be the best year ever.

*Title quote attributed to Oscar Wilde.

Defining the Goals – My Wish List

I have been thinking about what my hopes are for the pet community I belong to and enjoy so much. I know I can’t do everything, but I can do something. Defining my personal goals and beliefs helps me organize my thoughts and move forward on my actions. Although I call this a “Wish List”, I do believe each of these goals is achievable – real world, in our lifetime, it-could-start-today-if-we-all-worked-hard achievable. So here is my list:

  • No shelter animal will be killed solely on the basis of its breed, its status as an abused pet or for population control.
  • Every shelter pet will receive a fair evaluation by at least one qualified individual.
  • Any dog deemed “dangerous” will receive an individual evaluation by a behaviorist, the results of which will be duly considered in determining the most humane outcome.
  • Euthanasia will be used to end suffering of pets deemed medically hopeless by a Veterinarian.
  • Euthanasia will be performed only by a Veterinarian, using the gentlest method modern medicine has to offer – currently, sedation followed by intravenous injection.
  • Shelters will keep accurate, detailed records which will be accessible to the public.
  • No laws will be enacted which require the forfeiture of a pet due to breed, reproductive status, or unreasonable burdens which the owner could not bear.
  • All pet breeders will be ethical and responsible in word and deed.
  • All pet owners will provide appropriate care for the life of their pets unless unforeseen circumstances prevent that, in which case they will responsibly rehome the pet.
  • In cruelty cases involving the mentally ill, provisions will be made to allow for mental health treatment of the abuser. Each case will be evaluated on an individual basis to determine if circumstances exist which might allow for the person to own a pet in future, under close supervision by family, friends and authorities.
  • Pet food companies will manufacture their products with quality ingredients using NRC guidelines and feeding trials, test their food with transparency to consumers, label with COOL and advertise honestly.
  • Any organization claiming a mission to help animals will raise funds and/or lobby for legislation with complete and easily accessible transparency to the public.
  • Any organization claiming a mission to help animals will first, do no harm.

Yeah, there are challenges. I know. To name a few:

  • How do we fund the advancement of these goals?
  • How do we define the terms so that we are all on the same page (or at least reading from the same book)?
  • How do we legally enforce the mandates while maintaining a balance with our individual rights as American citizens?
  • How do we educate and assist pet owners in remote areas with high poverty levels?

I don’t have all the answers. I have ideas though – and a blog! So I got that goin’ for me.

I would love to read your personal wish list for the pet community. I’m sure there are important things I left off mine. I consider it a work in progress.

We All Need Somebody to Lean On

I saw this couple’s story on Headline News this weekend and was very touched:

Weeki Wachee, Florida – During this recession, many people across Tampa Bay have been forced to give up their pets.

But despite losing his job, Ted Koran of Weeki Wachee vows he’ll keep his cast of critters, which includes two horses, three ducks, five dogs, two pot-bellied pigs, two parakeets and more.

Koran has always been an animal lover, but his love for pets has taken on a whole new meaning.

Koran believes some of his pets can predict and stop his wife’s seizures. Karen Koran is a severe epileptic and has been diagnosed with four types of epilepsy.

[…]

Because she’s epileptic, Karen can’t work. And since she’s never been able to work, she does not qualify for disability.

Even though Koran recently lost his job as a heavy equipment operator, the couple refuses to let their animals go.

It costs about $100 a week to feed all of their pets. Koran is now down to eating just one meal a day, so that he can afford the animal feed and pet food.

“We’re worried that things are going to get tight [and that] we’ll lose our home,” Koran choked out through tears. “It’ll break our hearts if we lose our animals.”

I contacted Mr. Koran to inquire if there is any way we in the pet community could give them a “hand up” to hold them over until they get back on their feet. He sent me a kind response and I have included part of it here:

Nothing will be wasted and WILL be accounted for. Our address is 10396 Snowbird Ave., Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614. Our phone is 352-584-8724. Our local feed store is Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl. and their phone is (352) 796-4186 for feed, hay and pet food. These donations can go directly to our animals. Let me know and I can pick the feed up. Because of scams I have asked the reporter, Janie Porter, who did the story to keep track of everything we do with the donations. We don’t want people to think we are gold diggers.

I don’t think that Mr. Koran and I know you’d rather be working. Many of us are struggling in this economy and indeed pets do bring us a quality of life that you can’t put a price tag on. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing people to help. Those of us who can, will.

Donations can be mailed to:
Ted and Karen Koran
10396 Snowbird Ave.
Weeki Wachee, Fl. 34614

Feed, hay, and pet food can be purchased at:
Ranch Hand Feed Depot in Brooksville, Fl.
Phone: (352) 796-4186

If you aren’t in a position to make a donation at this time, please keep a good thought for the Korans and for all the pet owners struggling and sacrificing to keep their pets in these challenging times. We’ll all get through this, together.

I Want a Clown, Pony Rides, and a Magician

It’s my one year Blogger birthday and this is my 200th post.  Wow.  So let me see, if I calculate the average time spent writing each post times my hourly wage for pajama blogging… [carry the eight, round to nearest dollar] – got it:  Oh.  Never mind.  

Thank you to those who read, those who write, and you who have been kind enough to add me to your blogrolls/feeds.  I won’t take the responsibility lightly (unless I’m tired, hungry or distracted – oh look:  SpArKly!)

Mahalia Jackson Live Performance

Stuff I Know, Courtesy of Calvin and Hobbes

Click image for full size.