This week, three colleagues and I announced the formation of Michiganders for Shelter Pets. This is a coalition to bring together Michigan citizens, animal shelters, animal organizations, businesses, veterinarians and professionals to work toward the goal of ending pound seizure and gas chamber euthanasia in Michigan.
I have been an advocate to end pound seizure in Michigan for the past decade. And for the past 4 years I have advocated to end the practice throughout the U.S. as well as to ban gas chambers. We created this coalition to educate others about the practice as well as to inspire them to support legislative efforts. We took this step to bring together people who want to help shelters and shelter animals in a positive way.
I know first hand how difficult it can be to reform laws and policies to protect animals. Opposition may come from county officials, from supporters of pound seizure, gas chambers or other outdated practices, and even from some shelters and animal advocates. While every animal organization has its own mission and goals, one thing that we can all agree on is that we want more for shelter pets. We want them to be housed properly and given every opportunity to find a loving home. The best way to accomplish this is not individually, but working together. But often we receive push back from those who fear that a hidden agenda is in play, or their ego simply rejects the efforts of others because they want to be the one to make change and be in the spot light.
In my upcoming book, Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting and Advocating for Pets, I included a chapter on working together and handling divisiveness. Plainly put, the divisiveness needs to stop and we need to keep our eye on the goal. We could all take a lesson from the pets and learn to get along like they do. To me, a coalition to help animals is like a group of puppies or kittens. They play together nicely and are eager to interact and learn from each other, they may chew on each other’s tails and toes every now and then, but in the end they end up in a big pile to rest and get ready for the next adventure. For the sake of the animals, let’s learn from the puppies and kittens and begin to work together. And I’m proud to say that 4 of us are doing just that with Michiganders for Shelter Pets!
If you are in a state or community that has a coalition to help animals, please post your comments and share your stories! If you do not have a coalition, consider banding together with like-minded people to help the animals. Contact me if you would like to brainstorm how to do this.