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Commentary: Time to throw in the towel

Rachel and Naomi
Rachel and Naomi
Sharon Gilbert

This year marks the 40th year since I rescued my first Boxer Pete. In those 40 years there have been lots joyous times for the ones that could be saved and many tears for the ones that could not. Terrified, abused animals have been transformed into treasured pets. Others only lasted long enough to know they were loved in the final moments of their lives.

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the rescue community no longer needs me, whether it is writing articles or pulling or transporting animals because it is no longer about rescue. Today, it is about money and power.

With 4700 friends on Facebook there isn’t a day go by where there is not at least one flame war over who is a righteous rescuer and who is not. Rescues are after the almighty dollar—the pledges attached to any given animal.

But more important than the infighting is the unwillingness to make change. The shelter situation will never be corrected until there is a change in laws that manage breeding, require licensure, and encourage education.

Unfortunately, most of those who witness the suffering each day are unwilling to do what it really takes to effect change—change that stops puppy mills and backyard breeders, funds free and low-cost spay and neuter, makes animal welfare a part of school curriculums, and toughens laws with mandatory prison sentences for animal abusers.

Laws do not appear out of thin air. They must be written and passed by our legislators.

And this is where the animal welfare community fails miserably. I would have to ask how many of you cast a vote for each and every office in each and every election. If typical, maybe twenty or thirty percent of you at least fill out a ballot. Everyone else is too busy to assure we elect representatives who are willing to make animal welfare a priority. And that tells me where the priorities of the animal welfare community really are. It’s not with effecting long-term changes.

For each and every one of you who is reading this, let me ask you a question. When was the last time you attended a city council or county board meeting to express your concerns about your local shelter or a neighboring shelter that might be in worse condition? When was the last time you called your state legislator to express your opinion?

We have an election coming up. How many of you have contacted the candidates to determine their perspectives on animal welfare issues before you vote?

When there is mandatory spay/neuter or microchipping legislation on the agenda, the AKC gets the backyard breeders to come out in droves. Where is the rescue community? More often than not, if we are lucky, one or two rescuers take the time to show up.

I’ve been preaching the importance of political action for a long time now. It simply falls on deaf ears who are only thinking of their next buck. I’ve decided that is the case because change is not what is really wanted.

What did Albert Einstein once write? Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That pretty much sums up what I see on Facebook each and every day within the rescue community.