Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On election day remember the rescuers: Animal advocacy in the voting booth

Animal rescuers good government and social policies to help us help animals. / Photo: Yvette Holzbach and Sheri Burtch, Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward Project

In the United States, this is perhaps the most important day we’ll have for another four years— election day.  The outcomes of thousands of local and national races will determine a great deal about our future for decades or even centuries to come.

Most years in the past I’ve volunteered heavily for various campaigns. This year I voted, but as far as political volunteering goes, I’m sitting it out. Well not sitting exactly. You can’t sit for very long when you’re caring for a sick dog who was recently a parasite-infested bag of bones roaming the streets. I’m running myself ragged, actually.

Which is one reason why election day is important. We animal rescuers have it rough. We all run ourselves ragged.  We need people in government who get that.  Who understand that it’s not just about the animals. It’s about us too—all of us who care about animals.

We need candidates who recognize that caring about animals is not some wacko fringe neurosis. It’s an extension of caring about people.

We need authorities who see that what we do is not only good for animals but good for society. It’s helpful and constructive and healthy to care about animals.

We need leaders who know that animal rescuers make a community a better place—we make our country a better place.

In a few minutes I have to leave the desk so as to feed, medicate, and walk my current rescued dog, Agapi. That’s the Greek word for “love.” So I can’t write as much as I’d like tonight.

Before his rescue, Agapi suffered for months alone on the streets from a disease called Leishmaniasis. / Photo: Katerina Lorenzatos Makris
In fact I have dozens of articles about animals backed up and waiting in the pipeline to be posted. Doing hands-on animal rescue means I haven’t had time to finish them.

Which is an additional reason why election day is important. I don’t want to have to keep doing this.

It’s true that I’m not in the U.S. right now—I’m in Greece, where you could argue that the situation for animals is worse. But it’s not a lot worse. The status of animals in our beautiful United States is shockingly poor considering our status in the world.

Theoretically we’re one of the planet’s most highly developed countries. It’s a pity that our treatment of and attitudes toward animals reflects that so little.

Which is yet another reason why election day is important. The U.S. is the globe’s leader—or at least trendsetter—in so many ways. Why not in animal welfare?

My goal had been to present a series of interviews with animal-friendly candidates for readers to use in preparation for voting. I failed to meet that goal, in large part because I was rescuing a dog.

I know I’m not the only one whose plans, hopes, and dreams get set aside when we encounter animals in need.

And that’s yet another reason why election day is important. I want my life back. Probably, if you’re a rescuer yourself, so do you.

We need leaders bold and visionary enough to march us out of the dismal animal Dark Ages into a daring new time of light.

As you go to the polls and make your choices, as you look for the best candidates to address your needs and represent your views, please remember the animals, and remember the rescuers. 

We need your vote too.

Thank you Yvette Holzbach and Sheri Burtch of Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward Project for the use of the top photo.

Please visit The Dozen Dogs Diaries again soon for upcoming articles about Agapi.

Better yet, sign in with the 'Join this blog' button above to receive an email notice whenever there's a new article.

For previous articles please see archive to the right, including:

Love comes home: the challenging rescue of a sick and bloody street dog 

Read Melissa Beamish's excellent blog about her round-the-world trip volunteering in animal shelters, including a month at Kefalonia's ARK.

To donate or to volunteer on behalf of animals in Kefalonia, contact Animal Rescue Kefalonia (ARK) and Kefalonia Animal Trust (KATs).

The Dozen Dog Diaries (DDD) would be delighted if you'd spread the links to these articles. Please just keep in mind that reprint or re-post of more than a paragraph or two of the text or of any of the photos is allowable only by explicit permission from DDD, who may be contacted at youradopteddogATyahooDOTcom. Thanks for visiting!

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