December 15, 2010
A Pledge for Peace in the World of Animal Care
Let's keep violence and threats out of the animal care and welfare community
by Inga Fricke
I look on the holiday season as a time to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the past year, give thanks for our blessings, and resolve to take on even more good works in the year to come. The past year was extremely demanding for many of those who do the hard work of sheltering and rescuing cats, dogs, and other animals.
Cause for Alarm
I know I'm not the only person who was filled with concern this year watching dedicated animal care and control professionals face a rising tide of anger, bullying, and disparagement. Workers in several different shelters suffered death threats and attacks on their homes and families.
Shelter professionals understand that their work raises passions, but the increase in the sheer number and intensity of attacks this year—particularly from anonymous Internet users—is alarming.
In celebration of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week last month, The HSUS launched a Pledge for Humane Discourse and Conduct within Animal Welfare. Our goal is to remind the animal welfare community that verbal and physical attacks, threats, harassment, and other acts of violence ultimately do not help animals. Instead, they eliminate opportunities for civil debate, dialogue and collaboration, which are now, more than ever, so critical to building humane communities.
Keeping the humane movement humane
By creating the Pledge, we don't intend to stifle discussion about new and better approaches to sheltering, nor do we intend to excuse those who aren’t meeting their commitments. Shelters must work hard to constantly improve their level of care and service, and they have an obligation to seek out and implement even more creative ways to address the underlying reasons for pet homelessness within their community.
We simply offer the Pledge as a reminder to all that the golden rule still applies, whether you are dealing with someone face-to-face or speaking about them anonymously from 3,000 miles away. We must always bear in mind that name calling, unfounded accusations, and frivolous disparagement of a shelter or rescue only drives the public away and discourages them from adopting—and with 80% of Americans still getting their pets from sources other than shelters and rescues, that's a losing proposition for shelter animals if ever there was one.
Commit to compassion
Here at The HSUS, we extend our deepest gratitude to all of the organizations from Miami to Maine, Kentucky to California, and even beyond our borders, that have joined with us so far by signing the Pledge. (You can see the complete list of signatories here.) If you, your organization, or your circle of animal advocates has already signed, thank you!
If you haven’t signed the Pledge yet, please do so now and commit to promoting compassion and respect, not for just animals but also for those who work tirelessly on their behalf.
If you haven't signed the Pledge yet, please do so now—commit to promoting compassion and respect, not just for animals but also for those who work tirelessly on their behalf. With a renewed focus on implementing positive change and working together, we can save many more animals in 2011.With a renewed focus on implementing positive change and working together, we can save many more animals in 2011.
Inga Fricke is the Director of Shelter Initiatives for The Humane Society of the United States.