Thursday, December 29, 2011

One Volunteer


After seeming to blow into our community on a strong north wind, this woman, this foreigner from the east coast, decided to devote her spare time to our local Humane Society.  How dare she?  How dare she not be from Wisconsin, let alone our community, that is?
Given her obvious passion for animals of all shapes and sizes, it didn’t take long for this woman to dig herself in deep at the Humane Society…it didn’t even take long before she was allowed in the back of the facility.  It was impressive since so few volunteers are permitted entry into the Society’s equivalent of Area 51.  What proved even more impressive with each day she volunteered, though, was not the generous amount of money she donated to the Society’s cause…it was the way this woman gave of herself.
She walked dogs, did laundry, arranged events, engaged people, and encouraged others.  She never hesitated to argue with someone when making a plea to spare an animal from a death sentence, either…arguments that too often were mercilessly ignored.  She cleaned cages, kennels and runs, fed animals, transported displaced pets, talked with rescues, sought lost dogs, and grieved terribly whenever a companion animal was killed for any reason.  She started programs, wrote articles, and attended conferences and seminars.  She never complained because there was simply nothing she would not do to help the animals.  She didn’t just speak about her passion for animals, her actions demonstrated her unwavering commitment to the Humane Society and its cause day-in and day-out.
Outside of the shelter’s walls, this woman’s passion for people was just as obvious as her dedication to the animals was inside the facility.  Her willingness to help permeated the very air around her.  Standing next to her, you knew you were in the presence of someone who really cared not only about your pets, but about you and your human family members.  Standing before her, you knew she’d babysit your kids just as readily as she’d keep an eye on your dog if you needed her to.  There was just nothing she wouldn’t do if there was a good enough reason for her to take action.
Sadly, the proverbial wind is scheduled to blow again and it will carry this once-foreigner, now respected animal advocate and friend, to California.  Just like Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the community that welcomes our friend and her husband will not know the type of person that has arrived within its limits…until she demonstrates that she doesn’t do anything halfway just like she did here.

Thank you Victoria Grace.  Thank you for all you have done for this community.  Thank you, too, for all you have done for the animals.  Thank you, in advance, for all you are going to do in your new hometown.  We will remain grateful to you long after you are settled into your California home.  You will be truly missed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry Christmas to You

Take a moment to answer the following question Dirty Harry posed to a movie villain or two … Do you feel lucky?  Lucky enough to win a contest even?  If so, January, 2012, may be your lucky month if you read my blog regularly!
Beginning with the first week in January, 2012, and continuing through each of the month’s remaining three weeks, I am selecting a winner of a contest I am hosting to thank my loyal readers!  Every week, I will draw the name of a person on whose behalf I will pay the fees to adopt a dog or a cat from a Humane Society or animal shelter located within a 100-mile radius of Manitowoc, WI!  That’s right! I’ll pay the adoption fees and introduce four animals to four loving homes this upcoming January! 
All you have to do to enter the contest is share your pet adoption story, or any pet-related tale, and let me know you follow my blog via email, on Facebook or by sharing a link to your website along with a backlink to my blog.  To win, you must have an approved adoption record on file by the date your name is selected (unfortunately, a pending adoption through an animal rescue will not qualify you to participate in this contest).
The first winner will be selected by random drawing on January 7, 2012, from among all contest entrants.  One additional winner will be announced during each subsequent week throughout January!
If your name is selected in any one of the four random drawings, I will meet you and your new pet at the appropriate adoption location, speak with the staff members who arranged your adoption of a dog or cat, and pay all of the fees associated with your pet’s adoption!
Now is the time to stop reading and start making plans to adopt a pet from a Humane Society or shelter within 100 miles of Manitowoc!  Take a few minutes to send me your story and let me know what you think of my blog to make sure you are entered in this contest, too!
Do you feel lucky?  I hope so!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ticked about my microchip

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about microchips lately.  And my thinking recently led me to conduct a non-scientific research project that I’m sure 4 out of 5 actors who portray dentists on television would approve of.  Rather, I’m pretty sure they would.
In Wisconsin, the microchip market is basically divided between two microchip companies, Home Again and 24-Hour Pet Watch.  Being familiar with some of the differences between the two companies’ business practices, I decided to have my newest addition, my dog Pixie, implanted with a Home Again microchip to further my understanding of the differences between Home Again and 24-Hour Pet Watch.
I could have gone to the local Humane Society to have a Home Again chip implanted for $30, but decided to have my vet perform the simple task for $54 instead.  I was impressed, but not positively, by the 540 percent markup given that a Home Again microchip only costs $10,( or possibly $0) but know my trusted vet has bills to pay just like the rest of us.  Anyway, with Pixie comfortable on the couch next to me after we returned home, I proceeded to try to register Pixie’s chip in the Home Again system.  Yes, I tried…
I tried until I was informed that I could not use my debit card to pay the $16.99 required to register Pixie’s microchip.  Fortunately for me, Home Again was more than willing to accept a credit card as payment…and, according to the company’s fine print, Home Again was also more than willing to automatically charge my credit card annually to keep Pixie in its system…all for my convenience.
When I called Home Again to ask if only credit card holders could successfully register their microchipped pets, a customer service agent told me I could use my debit card to pay the registration fee, after all…as long as my debit card had a big name.  I stopped listening to the person clearly reciting a scripted response to my inquiry and just thought, “WHAT A STUPID, DISCRIMINATORY SYSTEM.”  Yes, I was really thinking that loudly.
My research experiment has led me to wonder why Home Again is in business.  Why do people pay to register their pets with this company when 24-Hour Pet Watch charges nothing to register a pet microchipped with its product.  Oh, and by the way, 24-Hour Pet Watch only charges $6 per chip, almost half of what Home Again does.  Can anyone tell me why Home Again remains in business?  My research indicates that it shouldn’t be…at least not in the microchip business.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Board, New Attitude

After attending the first meeting of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s newly-elected board of directors, I can honestly report that I firmly believe this is the best board the Society has had in years, if not decades.  Not only did the board conduct its discussion in front of an audience of Society members, it actually focused its conversation on the animals…the dogs and cats currently in the Society’s care as well as those who will be in the future.
With nothing on the meeting’s agenda that directly related to animals, the Society’s board members launched into a dialogue about pet adoptions.  After some debate, the board members agreed to reduce the cost of pet adoptions.  Senior citizens will receive a 50 percent discount off of the Society’s adoption fees.
The board also decided to extend an invitation to members of the general public to adopt pets in exchange for reduced fees during the months of December, 2011 and January, 2012.  During this time period, a person can adopt a dog for approximately $70, half off the Society’s usual adoption fee.  During these months, the price of adopting a cat from the Lakeshore Humane Society will be reduced from $95 to $20.12 as well. 
After taking the huge step of adjusting the Society’s adoption fees, the board moved onto another  subject, boarding.  Soon after broaching the subject, the board decided to no longer allow the Society to board animals.  The board continued by dedicating the space formerly used to board animals to the specific use of quarantining dogs when they arrive.  Finally!
The board also formed a desperately needed public relations committee, discussed approaching the county to revisit previously abandoned negotiations, described the seemingly fair numbers included in city contracts and debated what information will be presented to individual cities.  Oh, did I mention that while all of this talk was going on, the board’s members actually made those of us in attendance laugh a time or two?
While I am not na├»ve enough to think the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors can overcome all of the obstacles it inherited from previous boards in a single year, I am optimistic that the current board can and will undo years of inappropriate, ineffective policy-making and make significant headway in improving the Society’s horrible reputation.  Being a No Kill advocate, I am further encouraged by overhearing one board member ask if they should speak about the life-saving No Kill matrix, even though that was deferred to the closed session.
I invite you to attend the next monthly meeting of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors so you, too, can witness real, meaningful progress in action.  It’s invigorating to hear board members talk about the reasons they have their positions, the animals, instead of themselves.  
Personally, I can’t wait to attend next month’s meeting.  I’m hoping the conversation includes finding a new Executive Director for the Lakeshore Humane Society!  Join me there to see if it does!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

ASPCA Blunder

Do you remember the adage:  sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?  Well, my very dear friend remembers it differently.  Her version ends with “names will always hurt me.”
While I’m not exactly hurt, I am more entrenched in my support of No Kill after all of the Movement’s advocates were labeled as “extremists” in downloads made available by the ASPCA in its blog, ASPCApro.  Although the downloads have been removed during the past few days, they were originally attached to material that provided advice on how all animal advocates could work together to achieve their common goals.  Rather than bringing all advocates together, however, two of the documents were particularly divisive and included specific instruction to others about how they should handle supporters of No Kill, those of us otherwise known as “extremists.”
Needless to say, members of the No Kill community were highly offended by the content posted by the ASPCA.  Even Best Friends created a post on its blog chastising the ASPCA for having created the downloads and for presenting them for public view under the guise of trying to get everyone to get along, to work together.
Do people involved with No Kill need to be handled differently than other animal advocates?  Maybe.  Maybe after twenty years of trying to convince shelter operators to stop the needless slaying of companion animals by making simple, practical changes to the way they run their shelters, the No Kill community does deserve to be treated differently.  Maybe members of this community need to be heard by people who are willing to lead their shelters in a direction that protects and preserves animals instead of the one that leads to the senseless deaths of homeless pets.
Even though I have never run a shelter, I know how No Kill works compared to old, traditional sheltering methods.  Any normal person who examined the No Kill Equation would agree that once every shelter in America adopts a No Kill approach, the practice of slaughtering homeless animals, homeless pets, will stop.
The real problem, as I see it, is not with those of us labeled as “extremists.”  The real problem is with the lack of leadership and passion that still governs this country’s shelters.  Maybe the people who refuse to accept that those of us who are truly passionate about animals need to be treated differently are the same ones who are preventing shelters from being operated differently…from being operated as No Kill facilities.  Maybe these non-extremists, these people who accept their killing operations as business as usual, need to step aside and let those of us who are willing to lead, to effect change, do so.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lakeshore Humane Society Has A New Board

Some of you may remember me writing about the election of the Lakeshore Humane Society’s board of directors in recent weeks.  Well, now that the election is over, I think it is time for me to comment on its results.
I am happy to report that I am very pleased with the election’s results!  I have full confidence in the individuals who were awarded seats on the board and their collective ability to make sweeping changes to the Lakeshore Humane Society.  Failing to win a seat on the board myself, I will have to rely solely on my faith that the new board will not just retain its ability to make changes, but will use its new dynamic to develop a willingness to make the necessary changes as well. 
Personally, I hope the board begins its term addressing some of the problems the shelter has with its operations.  I look forward to the day when the board hires an executive director, for instance, and hope this day is not too far off in the future.  I hope the future executive director of the Lakeshore Humane Society will put an end to the rude treatment of the shelter’s volunteers, myself included, and the seemingly random, senseless killing of animals the shelter is supposed to protect… the animals who would have made excellent companions had their lives been spared.
Until the Lakeshore Humane Society has a new executive director in place and the organization’s leader remedies the current dysfunction that remains obvious at this point despite the success of the recent election, I regret to write that I will continue to suspend my charitable donations and my involvement with the organization.
Even though I am disappointed with the way the Lakeshore Humane Society operates at the moment, I feel very, very confident in the Society’s new board of directors at the same time. I am looking forward to telling you all about the changes the board succeeds in making during the upcoming year and, hopefully, about my renewed giving and involvement with the shelter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Conference #1

I’m sitting in my Las Vegas hotel room reflecting on the many experiences I enjoyed while attending the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Conference of 2011.  I’m also thinking about a few observations I made during the conference that I’d like to share with you.  With only a little time before I have to leave to catch my flight home, I look forward to finishing this post from my couch this evening…
Over all, the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Conference of 2011 was informative, fun and very much worth the time and expense required to attend.  Of course, what gathering in support of companion animals wouldn’t be worth attending unless it was hosted by the dreaded Michael Vick or the bat-eating Ozzie Osborne?
Before I left Wisconsin, I invested some time in choosing the sessions that would enable me to help animals the most from among the many different lectures and workshops offered by the conference.  I gained particularly invaluable knowledge from three of the workshops I chose:  the Leadership Seminar taught by Bonnie Brown and Susan Kogut, the Creative Writing for Fundraising Workshop led by Elizabeth Doyle and the Blogging Worship instructed by my friend, Kathy Pobloskie.  On a personal note, I just want to apologize to Kathy for violating so many of her blogging do’s and don’ts!
During some of the other sessions I attended, I watched instructors having to address topics unrelated to their respective areas of expertise.  Maybe it was because more than 70 percent of the attendees were participating in the conference for the first time, but a lot of students distracted instructors by using opportunities to ask questions of their teachers to promote their own efforts to save animals.  While I enjoyed the chances to learn more about what others are doing, I regret not being able to take full advantage of the expertise certain instructors brought to the conference and, more specifically, their workshops.
I was also a little disappointed with the way the conference ended especially in comparison with the gathering’s strong, moving start.  When I arrived in Las Vegas, I was inspired by the conference’s theme of unity, of working together to prevent the needless, pointless abuse, neglect and death of companion animals.  I was surprised when, at the end of the conference, two of the people I view as visionaries in the No Kill Movement were not discussed or even mentioned by name.  With his book, “Redemption,” Nathan Winograd changed my viewpoint on the movement to save animals and, I’m sure, did the same for others.  The talk about Austin without the mention of Ryan Clinton was, at best, empty.
I don’t know what the motivation was to not identity Nathan Winograd or Ryan Clinton as leaders in the movement to protect companion animals.  Maybe it was a matter of not wanting to share credit or something else.  Either way, I think we all, conference attendees and everyone who was unable to attend the gathering, should unite in our efforts to prevent the senseless killing of companion animals.  That’s all that matters, after all, right?  That’s what all of us, from the most-renowned to the least recognized of us, are working to stop, right?
Ah…back on my couch after a great flight with no lost luggage!  Just a few more thoughts I’d like to share…
First, thanks to the folks who attended the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Conference of 2011 on behalf of Lost Dogs of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals!  I had a great time meeting all of you and learning about what you are doing to preserve the well-being of animals in my own state.  Thank you for your efforts and, please, keep up your great work!
Also, thanks to the folks at Free Roamers, LTD, a local non-profit that exists to protect cats in my community.  I enjoyed chatting with you before I left for Las Vegas and remain grateful for your enthusiasm and hospitality.  Given my pleasant experience interacting with the people at Free Roamers, LTD, I look forward to learning more about that group’s work and sharing what I learn with you.
Finally, being that I am relatively new to working to protect animals in a formal manner, I am trying to decide which groups I am going to work with most closely on local, state and national levels.  I am hoping all of you will help me determine which organizations will benefit from my help the most by making some suggestions.  I’ll look forward to reading what you send my way!
As always, thank you for reading and for all you do for the animals!  They need us all.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

14 Days and Counting

I look forward to the day when I can write good things about Lakeshore Humane Society. But I cannot yet because nothing has changed, and nothing will change until the evil, insane board members are ousted and a real leader is put in charge of the shelter. This will only happen if the membership of Lakeshore Humane Society decides to vote the right way. If they do not, I believe the society will fall apart on it's own. The lack of leadership is the downfall of most any company, humane societies included.

Today, I received an email that contained a video of a dog named Mary who is being held in the back of the humane society with the public's boarded dogs, which is another problem in and of itself that I will not get into here. I would really like you to watch Mary's video and understand that these types of dogs are either killed for space, or because they looked at an employee cross-eyed, or for some other trivial justification. The excuses run on and on and on. When will Lakeshore Humane Society realize that they are a humane society and not some place the public needs to be going to everyday to beg them not to kill dogs? Is that not something we detest? Is it any different then when a dog is shot by a farmer or killed by some mean kids? What is the difference if a humane society kills an animal with medication? There is none. Killing is killing is killing. There's no other word for it. It is what it is.

Well, October 18th is coming soon. I know that officials from the city plan to attend the LHS Annual Meeting and speak honestly about the pound contracts and why there are so many problems. They will name names. The officials I am referring to are members of LHS so they have every right to speak at our meeting. Frankly I will be glad when the elections are over. Depending on who gets elected there is so much to do. But again, that's only if the right people are elected. If the wrong people are voted in, then it's all over for Lakeshore Humane Society.

NOTE:  I just received word that Mary, along with her buddy Sniper will be transported to the DeYoung Zoo in Michigan for their homes.  Great news!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Speak Out For The Animals Sake

Section 1: "Detrimental Actions" shall be defined as any actions deemed detrimental to the well being or goals of the Corporation, acting in a manner disruptive to the efficient operation of the Corporation or acting in a manner injurious or without care for the animals we serve.
 Section 2: Termination of Membership
The Board, in its sole discretion, shall have the ability to terminate any Member at any time, for among other things, Detrimental Actions and Just Cause. Should the need arise, the Board may vote to suspend a Member's membership in anticipation of termination, with a two-thirds majority vote.

The above is taken from the Lakeshore Humane Societies' bylaws, and the number one reason I have remained anonymous as the writer of this blog. I am a member of the society. These rules prevent many people from speaking up in fear that they will be kicked off the membership rolls. It has happened before and until there are changes, it will probably happen again. Case in point: a member who was on the nominating committee, mind you, a volunteer refused to take a person's name off of the election ballot when directed by certain board members. Her membership was terminated. She was doing the right thing, but because the board is so corrupt, she was stripped of her membership. Her membership was reinstated this year and she has voting rights again. She also just happens to be a Two Rivers city councilperson.

To be honest with you, I have gotten to the point that if they want to kick me off for speaking the truth, then they can go ahead. The Lakeshore Humane Society is messed up, really messed up. I know of volunteers who can't do the right thing because they know they will be banned from the society for speaking up. They fear for the lives of the animals if they are not allowed to volunteer there anymore. How wrong is that? What kind of people run an organization that does not allow people to speak their mind and suggest ways in which the society could be run better? A dictatorship runs like this. People who are hungry for power are like this. Yes, the Lakeshore Humane Society is full of people like this, and those people outweigh the good.

I try not to get too worked up about it because I know at this point in time it does not make a difference what I say, or what I suggest. It is ignored. I have become a “bad” person already, in just the few short months I have become a member, because I have asked the hard questions and I have been persistent.

The candidate forum is coming up this September 27, 2011 at 6:30pm. I have discovered that the public can attend this. You do not have to be a member. So please attend and ask these candidates some hard questions. If they are running for re-election, ask them why everything is so messed up and push for answers, not just answers that evade the question. Seek the truth. I might as well spill the beans here. I am one of the candidates, and no, I am not asking you to vote for me here. But I will tell you one thing, I am running for this board so that I can, hopefully, make sweeping changes. The animals deserve this. It is a shelter for the animals. If you are not doing a good job, and I get elected, I guess I may be considered someone to fear. But in reality I am a person who seeks truth and justice, and in this humane society there isn't a lot of either. A lot of people have been putting up with or tolerating the status quo. Sorry, but I will not go with that anymore. I believe the humane society needs an executive director who can run the shelter the way it should be run, and actually make it successful. Right now that is not being done and you have a board of directors who, for whatever reason, have allowed this to go on for far too long.

So show up on September 27th and ask questions. Then on October 18th either attend the annual election meeting and vote or request an absentee ballot. If you need help requesting an absentee ballot, email me. If you don't attend the candidate forum and would like to know more about the candidates, just email me and I will get back to you. But in the end do something. Animals have no voice. We the people are their voice. Let's tell the Lakeshore Humane Society that the animals are fed up and things need to change, for their sake!