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December 19, 2011

Letter from the Editors: Pioneering Spirits

The ripple effect of one advocate inspiring another

All Animals magazine

  • Susan Hagood                                Michelle Riley/The HSUS

As the editors of the nation’s largest animal protection magazine, we strive to bring you stories you’re not likely to find anywhere else. Our content ranges from heartwarming to heartbreaking—two qualities that, in this field, are rarely mutually exclusive. Protecting animals requires a wherewithal to confront the truth, no matter how disturbing, about the suffering they endure.

Reinventing All Animals three years ago to better reflect this mission, we devoted our first cover story to longtime HSUS employee Susan Hagood and her quiet crusade to save the all-too-forgotten Eastern box turtle, a creature who’d survived for millennia in habitats destroyed by humans in just a few centuries.

Construction of a central Maryland highway was threatening to bury many of them alive, so Susan enlisted help from state transportation officials, turtle advocates, and her turtle-detecting chocolate Lab, Drew. Together this unlikely team removed hundreds of animals from the path of supposed progress, with Susan collecting data for a study along the way. “They keep me up at night, these turtles,” she told us at the time. “You’re just haunted by the ones you couldn’t find.”

As this issue goes to press, we ourselves are haunted by the recent untimely deaths of Susan and another beloved colleague, Sue Farinato, who died within weeks of each other. In addition to her day job helping pet owners, Sue trained shelter workers steeped in dog and cat issues to better handle calls about wildlife in distress. Her Wildlife Aid Brigade was a much needed addition to community animal protection, and her death blindsided those whom Sue had taught about everything from renesting baby songbirds to humanely evicting squirrely home invaders.

The innovations pioneered by Sue and Susan are key to driving progress in a field where resources are few and challenges vast. This issue is filled with the stories of likeminded souls: people like Ethan Brown and Biz Stone, who’ve developed a product designed to better compete with products from factory farms, and Tony and Donna Demetriades, who’ve worked with many people and animals—including another nosy and conservation-minded detection dog—to preserve their property for wildlife.

Such stories resonate far beyond these pages, as our profile of Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association member Lori Pasternak (September/October 2011) did for Santa Fe, N.M., veterinarian Carolyn Fletcher. “She’s got a lot to teach us,” says Fletcher, who plans to visit Pasternak’s clinic in Richmond, Va., observing how it combines low-cost surgery with community service. Fletcher wants to establish a similar clinic to serve her community’s rural areas and pueblos. “It’s a great model for somebody like me who’s just … starting to get the ball rolling.”

The ripple effect—of one advocate inspiring another—keeps our editorial calendar filled with more ideas than we could ever have room for in these 40 pages. It also comforts us in our time of grief, remembering how many lives our colleagues have touched and will continue to inspire even long after they’re gone.

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