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Sunday, October 25, 2009

It's a Small World After All...

Is the world getting smaller?  I know when they invented television, they said the world got smaller because if you could not afford to travel, you could see exotic places and shows on the "boob tube".  Then along comes the internet... smaller still.  Instantly emailing people anywhere in the world without the envelope, stamp and lag time...priceless.  Shopping in distant places for things you probably wouldn't have bought, but since you found it and like it, woo hoo, whip out the credit card...may not be priceless, it definitely has a price,  but it is lots of fun!  (Don't share that one with my husband please...ebay ebay ebay...)  This world of ours seems to have gotten even smaller, at least for me.   My rescue world shrank with the addition of two important websites, one of which will not surprise you, but perhaps the other one will.   (I receive no benefits for talking about any websites, products, or groups...although I might consider it, so give me a call if you are interested...just make sure I like your product...LOL). changed my life. It allowed me to hold on to my animal hospital that I likely would have abandoned had Petfinder not made itself available.  Owning a veterinary clinic was my dream.  I work in a very small town.  1200 people live in my town.    Prior to my clinic's opening, some stray animals were taken to a veterinarian in another town, but they were often euthanized at the end of their required hold time.  Most animals were shot on sight prior to my clinic's opening.  I take in strays from my town and from several of the surrounding towns as well. There is no where else for the strays to go. We have no humane society, no dog pound.  My clinic functions as both.  Finding homes for the strays within the little town I live in is not a good situation.  Trust me, I have saturated the local market.  No one here wants another dog or cat!

With Petfinder, I am able to place my adoptable pets on this intangible internet.  As a result, people have adopted animals from me from all over the U.S. including Washington State, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Connecticut.  These are all homes that would not have been available to my rescued pets without this wonderful resource.  I used Petfinder for several years until the Pet Adoption Portal became available.  I can be resistant to change so it took the constant nudging by a few friends for me to change websites.  I never left Petfinder really, as the Pet Adoption Portal uploaded all of my information to the Petfinder website as well as, and some other animal rescue websites as well.  I could reach more people with the same amount of work as I am used to doing in order to share my homeless huggables with the world.

Recently Petfinder decided to quit allowing Pet Adoption Portal to upload to it's website.  I don't know the reason for the change.  Bureaucratic differences I would assume.  But due to this change, Petfinder is creating more work for the rescue groups and shelters.  Any shelter that was using Pet Adoption Portal to instantly list their pets on multiple websites (last count is 23 different websites) will continue to do so.  It is too easy not to use it.  Will they continue to use Petfinder?  I know I will, but not in the same way. 

Due to Petfinder's split from Pet Adoption Portal, I have to upload each pet to 4 different websites in order to hit the same market as before the Petfinder split.  I have 3 different websites on Petfinder, so when they split from Pet Adoption Portal, this meant I needed to list one dog on 3 separate Petfinder websites, then on Pet Adoption Portal.  I have to copy and paste each pet's biography to make sure they are the same on each website.  So much more work than before, and very time consuming.  As a result, I will no longer use my Petfinder site for sharing my adoptable pets. I used my Petfinder website as my main adoption website for years. It was easy to remember, easy to share. It was on my clinic's website, on my business cards. It is no longer the link on my website, and when I order new business cards, the Petfinder site will not be on there. When Petfinder and Pet Adoption Portal work together, everyone benefits.  When these two groups, who share the desire, to help animals find homes, argue with each other, they are hurting the very people and animals they desire to help.

I am still very grateful to Petfinder for saving my animal hospital and helping me find my course in life as an animal rescuer.  If I did not have the Petfinder outlet for my adoptables, the only other options for the homeless animals at my clinic would have been euthanasia by me at my clinic, or dropping them off at a shelter that is always overloaded and underfunded and would likely result in euthanasia.  I hate euthanizing a healthy adoptable pet.  An animal who is severely injured beyond repair, an animal with a fatal illness, an animal with severe behavioral problems...  euthanasia can be a way to give these animals their dignity back.  But to euthanize a healthy animal simply for not having a home...well, damn, let's find it a home.  This is not a profitable way to run a business, but it gives me a good reason to wake up each morning.

The second website changing the animal rescue world is Now there is a lot of junk on Facebook.  Many of the rescue "groups" that you can become a member of on Facebook are just cardboard. Most of them are created by people who care about animals, start a Facebook group, invite members, sit back and just watch it grow.  They don't update, they don't educate, they don't activate their members.  It is a way of sharing your interests with people you know, but is not much more than that.

Some groups, however, are quite active.  I have two very active animal rescue groups on Facebook.  "Animal Alliance and Puppy Mill Rescue" and "Iowa Voters for Companion Animals".  Anyone is welcome to join either group.  I try to keep the Iowa group for Iowa voters, but it is open to anyone interested in learning more about Iowa's companion animal welfare laws.  You can visit their personal website at .   The Iowa voters group is not my creation, I just maintain the Facebook page.  The Animal Alliance group is my personal rescue group.  I have members from all over the world.  It is an active group, and members will receive messages that I feel are important to share. I lose a few members each time I send out messages.  The dormant people get annoyed by an active inbox and leave the group, and that is just fine with me.  I want people in my group that want to learn, want to share, and want to make changes for the better.

The reason I believe Facebook is helping to shrink the animal rescue world is because people share local happenings and it instantly gets transmitted to hundreds perhaps thousands of people within minutes!  For example, a local rescuer is trying to get some pet owner's to relinquish a dog that is chained outside all the time without food and water.  The police visited the property, and declared the dog a healthy weight, and told the owner's to give it food and water.  She posted this with photos on Facebook.   I can assure you that this small town is being bombarded with phone calls from everywhere.  Someone who responded to the call for help emailed, "Called the court house and they said he is fine. He (the dog) has been checked out… and asked me if I saw it on facebook ".  Really? 

Now, there is a down side to this publicity, too.  Perhaps several down sides. 

If you are in Puppyville, IA and you are getting phone calls from Kittyville, RI, are they going to take these long distance phone calls seriously?  If a person is steamed when they call, and sprinkles obscenities throughout the conversation, are they going to take these phone calls seriously?   When you read these postings, is it possible that you may not have the most current or the most accurate information about the situation? 

My advice to people who respond to calls for action is to be adult about the situation.  Learn as much as you can about the situation prior to taking any action, including talking to the person at the other end of the phone about the status of the case.  The more distinquished and mature you sound while discussing the matter, the more weight your opinion will hold.  The more human, and less tazmanian devil, you appear on the phone, the more respect your opinion will gain.  If after you gain the knowledge you desire about the situation, action is still called for, then take it.  Make the phone call, send the email, send the snail mail.  Do whatever you are capable of doing.

To make my point, I received another email about that outside dog stating, "i believe that someone from the Humane Society went out and checked on the dog...and the dog was not considered thin. the owners were told that food and water had to be made available and that they had until the 23rd to get the dog UTD on shots. this was posted on the FB page last night and she said that the dog had food and water now. the problem is that this is just another sad case of a dog chained 24/7 and that the codes of the city allow it. i told her that she needed to work to get the codes changed, gave her copies of the other town codes that we got changed, and that it would be a slow process but would ultimately help more dogs. instead, she's chosen to contact every rescue around to encourage people to contact the local HS, the city, etc. and just piss everyone off. the dog is not starving, now has food and water, and a crappy shelter, but there is nothing that can be done until the codes are changed. it sucks but pissing everyone off that she will eventually need on her side to get things changed is not the answer. i told her it takes time and education...and she took this route so i'm done."

Now all three of these people are in rescue to help the animals.  They all have many things in common yet here they stand, arguing with each other. They all have huge hearts, and devote more time and money than they have to rescue work.  I do believe that they all have a good point.  The dog should not be tied outside all the time without food and water.    It should not take the efforts of law enforcement to get the owner's to give the dog food and water.   The way to prevent this type of situation is to change the local codes.  This is not easy, and is very time consuming, but it is critical to preventing it from happening again.  The enigma here is what to do about this particular dog, since the owner's won't relinquish it, and law enforcement sees no reason to confiscate it.  I certainly would monitor the situation very closely because it is the dog that will suffer if you don't.  Monitor and document violations in the best way possible.  You have to attack the root of any situation or that ugly weed will keep popping up.  Get that code changed.  And here we stand with our rescue people at odds.  When they work together, everyone benefits. When they argue with each other, they are hurting the very people and animals they desire to help.

With the addition of these websites, and their siblings (ie pets911, myspace, etc.) people everywhere in the world can help and hurt a situation.  Thank you Petfinder for helping me to find my way.  Now open your eyes to the hurt you have caused by separating from the Pet Adoption Portal and work together.  To my rescue ladies, lets work together to monitor the case, ignore our differences, and change those codes together.  I think I will look into our own local codes as a preventative measure.

The increased knowledge of what is going on in places other than our neck of the woods creates a Big Brother scenario that will hold everyone up to the same bar, and hopefully keep people on their toes and motivate them to do right.

  "The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people."


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