Sometimes, to those of us involved in the Animal Welfare cause, it seems like the odds are overwhelming and that we will never stem the tide- or even make a dent in it.
But when we take a look back at what has been accomplished in the last decade, we can see some significant victories.
For example, the Michael Vick case. It turned out to be the weapon of mass destruction to dog fighting. It exposed it in a light that made it a cultural hot button. Most people were unaware that such activity existed. Now just mention it to anyone and you see a look of revulsion. Thanks to the raised public awareness, dog fighting has become the focus of federal-level law enforcement via the FBI.
The case also showed how formidable animal welfare activism has become. When Vick was arrested, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others of that ilk were ready to pounce. In a typical attempt to gain publicity, they claimed the case was based on racism and demanded Vick’s release. The Humane Society of the United States and other animal welfare groups took the opposite stance and Vick’s supporters…found something else to do.
Another major achievement was in the battle against puppy mills. This one is tough because, unlike dog fighting, it is makes money for some big proponents, among them Petland and the America Kennel Club .
Yes the AKC opposes puppy mill legislation. Breeders, who make up majority of the membership, fear it could impact their ability to sell expensive pure bred puppies.
Yet we were able to get congress to provide record funding for the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. It is anticipated that 34 states will pass laws against puppy mills.
More importantly, thousands of dogs were rescued this year in dozens of puppy mill raids.
We need to make Petland the “Michael Vick” of the puppy mill issue. Get Petland to stop selling puppies and that removes a lot of money from the puppy trade. It would also send a very clear message to other pet stores that sell puppies: you’re next. Another huge plus is that it would drive people who want pets to adopt from animal shelters.
These are all victories that we can take a moment to savor.
So where do we need to go from here?
There needs to be a push to unite animal welfare groups on every level from the HSUS and ASPCA down to the people who walk dogs and scoop poop at the local shelter. The only way we are going to win it is to work *together*.
We have accomplished a lot but how much more could we do as a united front? And we have a lot to do.
Dog fighting still exists. Petland is still selling puppies provided by canine concentration camps. There are the issues of factory farms and other inhumane agricultural practices, laboratory animals, hoarding, overpopulation and a host of other issues. We have joined the battle and have done a great job. But the war rages on and it promises to be long and hard fought.
To my colleagues in the fight, thanks for all you do!
In Memory of Fay. A symbol of Hope to All Fighting Dogs