Many of us have seen the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) heart-wrenching commercial showing homeless and caged shelter animals, with the sad Sarah McGlachlan song playing in the background. Anyone who cares about the welfare of animals cannot helped but be moved by that commercial, to the extent that I have to quickly change the channel when it comes on, as it makes me that sad.
Of course, showing the plight of the animals and pulling our heart strings is the purpose of the commercial, because it drives us to donate. The sad part about HSUS and other organizations like it, however, is that the donated money by in large does not make it to those poor creatures they show on TV. Instead, most of that money goes to pay lobbyists and attorneys to push for legislation that you may or may not agree with; yet the actual HSUS shelters have canine and feline euthanasia rates that range from 50%-80%. Those are very sad statistics for an organization that raises so much money.
In contrast, many smaller, local rescue groups engage in much more transparent and judicious use of donation dollars, that actually effectively lowers euthanasia rates and save animal lives. A recent, wonderful example of this that I had the pleasure to encounter is Friends for Animal Sanctuary, located right here in the Florida Space Coast where I live and practice veterinary medicine.
Run by their selfless, passionate leader, Katherine Johnson, Friends for Animals Sanctuary raises money through a thrift shop staffed with local volunteers, as well as direct donations and a gala they throw once per year. Every dollar raised is accounted for on a white board in the thrift shop for all to see, as the transparent use of money raised is a high priority in the organization and mandated by their director. Through the help of volunteer foster families throughout Brevard County and veterinarians that offer discounted services, Friends for Animals Sanctuary rehabilitates sick, injured, abandoned animals and finds them homes.
I had the privilege of attending this year’s gala, as well as speaking with Katherine Johnson one-on-one, and learned of her organization’s ultimate goal of constructing a No Kill animal sanctuary for all manner of animals, from dogs and cats, to horses and livestock. They have gotten over a big hurdle by attaining land, 80% of its value, donated by a generous, animal-loving landowner who was moved by this organization.
Katherine shared with me, that she plans to let this shelter be the model for others to go up in other areas of the country, creating a national movement of compassion, places for abandoned innocents to go without the threat of euthanasia should they not get adopted in a certain period of time. She envisions school trips to these sanctuaries to educate children on proper care of their new ”best friends,” and the responsibility they have when they choose to adopt a pet.
Even if you do not call the Florida home, such movements must be successful locally before they can spread nationally. Saving innocents in one part of the country is no more valuable than saving them elsewhere. I implore you to visit the FFAS website to learn how you can help:
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Dr. Roger Welton is the President of Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, FL, Chief Editor of the Veterinary Advice and Information Website, Web-DVM, and founder/CEO of Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care
Thank you so much, Dr. Welton for the the wonderful letter of appreciation and endorsement for FFAS! It was an honor and a pleasure meeting you at the Gala, and having your family join our table. As you eloquently stated, every animal counts, so each of can help by volunteering and being a key part of a huge effort and dream to make a real difference for them right here in Brevard County. Thank you for caring! –
Dear Dr. Roger, as we always Mistakenly called you Dr. MAYBECK and you Never corrected us! We are Paul and Debbie Ciolli and we picked up a little poodle, back in Deccember of 2005, just days before Christmas! Her name was Gypsy! You had Taken her because her FORMER “Owner” since she could NOT have been her MOTHER, since she LEFT her to be PUT DOWN, YOu said NO I won’t DO that, she has a Lot of Life Left in her! AND YES SHE DID! Thanks to YOU SHE GOT THAT LIFE and WE GOT AN ANGEL! Just because she Needed surgery and couldn’t be a Breeder any more, You Not ONLY Operated on her you also Took her and said YOU WOULD FIND HER A HOME! We had Lost our Fluffy of over 17 years in March of same year. I’d also become very ill and was “out of commission” for Most of 2005, Lost Fluffy while IN the hospital and had to come home with him Not being there for the 1st time in over 17 years. So after all that Health “stuff” was done by September, we started going to different shelters and also VETS asking for an animal that NEEDED Rescued. Your office had called us a few times, and finally just 3 days before the Holidays, we went in and started talking and 1 of your employees asked us if we wanted to come behind the counter there because I kept looking for Gypsy, they said she was a little poodle, but the poor thing was so ungroomed, even though VERY CLEAN and Obviously Healthy Again…but she looked almost like a very small cocker spaniel so we did not know the little one behind that counter was even her! It wouldn’t have mattered WHAT she LOOKED like, I saw her looking UP at everyone and read her mind! She wanted someone to pay attention to her but she was SO “NOT” demanding! I remember like it was yesterday, I Picked her up after asking if it was OK, and I started rocking her just instinct I guess, and she FELL ASLEEP in my arms! The lady says..”well I Guess GYPSY FINALLY FOUND a Home!” I said, OF COURSE SHE HAS! We took that little angel home with us and we spoiled her as much as we Possibly could. We were told she was about 7 1/2 years of age, and we HAD been bringing her to Dr. Weldon…Roger, even though it was much further for us to come since there were VETS all around us and VERY CLOSE to Our home. But, there came a day when we started to take her to the CLOSER Vet and one who had taken care of other dogs and animals we’d had in past. THAT was a HUGE MISTAKE! Dr. Roger had gone BEYOND PROVING that HE CARED about ALL Animals, young and old, big and small, and Cared ENOUGH to do whatever it took for HIM to give THEM a NEW and Better Life! He just GAVE us Gypsy and he’d had to operate on her and home her and continue to treat her for Not sure HOW long until we were FORTUNATE enough to FIND them BOTH! Our Gypsy became sick in March of 2012, and we took her to the VET here for 6 months Almost EVERY WEEK, and although they did Every TEST imaginable we Never DID know what actually killed her. To this day, I REGRET NOT TAKING her BACK to Dr. Roger, and I cannot tell you HOW MANY TIMES WE STARTED TO, I know he would’ve done MORE to either ONE, make SURE SHE WAS COMFORTABLE and TWO,…he would NOT have done tests JUST for the MONEY… She HATED going to ANY vets office, she wanted to be HOME or go with us but she ALWAYS feared US taking her to a VETS office, think she always feared she’d be DUMPED AGAIN. Dogs and Cats and ALL ANIMALS are MUCH Wiser than ANY or MOST give them credit for! Anyway, we’ve had many animals, over many years, but the BOND that GYPSY and I Had was one that NO ONE could EVER Forget no matter HOW much time there was to Try! I miss her so much, and it literally Killed me too, to lose her. We have 4 rescues now, we were given 2 our daughter rescued in Orlando that had been rescued off of Craigs List, and we’ve Adopted 2 from the South Animal Shelter on Eau Gallie. Plus we still have a parrot we rescued from someones garage back in Palm Bay in 1995. Here’s the POINT of this “story” All true, and SO much MORE TO IT, but the Fact IS This…Dr. Roger Weldon Cares MORE about Animals than ANY VET we have EVER known in ALL OUR YEARS COMBINED! For him to become a PART or SUPPORT Katherine of the FFAS is such a “Small World” MOMENT! Because WE were also at that GALA, wish we’d have Known that Dr. Roger was there, I did Write a piece on a blog about why we SHOULD’VE taken Gyspy BACK to HIM in 2012 and why he’s the MOST CARING and REAL DEAL of a VET and WHY IF YOU Want Your precious family member to receive the Absolute BEST, then Take them to Dr. Roger Weldon! It makes me feel like GYPSY is STILL a Part of our lives, full circle you might as well say, since WE are supporting FFAS and were there at the GALA, my husband, Paul, did a piece of ART for a donation at the GALA, the Glass Mosaic Seahorse, and we have donated to their thrift shop near Home Depot a few times, as well as shopped there, even though, we’ve Donated MOST everything extra we’ve had for over 7 to 8 years to the Cox Rd. Shelters Thrift Stores, the NO KILL? and once in January of 2013 I was dog walking there, and I followed a dog, I’d witnessed a “scene” and THATS another LONG STORY, but it caused me to go home and pick up my husband and go Rescue THAT dog that was SENT TO the Eau Gallie County Shelter, and rescue him as he’d been Assessed an Aggressive dog, and since rescuing him, rescued another who became our 4th. Now we are FOUR! Plus the parrot…I Cannot wait for FFAS to get their Santuary going, I Plan on being a Part of it ANYWAY and EVERYWAY Possible, for as long as I can. You know who my mentor is? Besides Katherine? A lady named FLORENCE! Florence of the “Journeys End Animal Sanctuary” near Deland Fl! Look her up, we all “FIT” very nicely, we ALL would do ANYTHING to End the Millions of Animals being Murdered and the Cruelty they endure at the hands of people “NOT LIKE US” every single day and night in This Country as well as others. Dr. Weldon has posted what I have always said…all these GUT wrenching VIDEOS that are Produced at the Expense of the Suffering Of Animals for MONEY, and yet they do NOTHING for these animals or any others! I’m going to say here what I always say, Puppy Mills and Breeders of ALL Kinds, backyard, flea market, so-called Professionals, ALL Breeders MUST NOT just be PUT OUT OF BUSINESS, But the GOV Classifying DOGS and CATS under the Dept. of Agriculture? Come on! COMMON SENSE< with Millions Born out of these MILLS and BREEDERS, and MILLIONS PUT TO DEATH EVERY YEAR, what makes sense about the Real Numbers of animals Never making it OUT of a Shelter ALIVE?? The numbers Born from BREEDERS for MONEY….and those numbers KILLED at shelters and Many OTHER PLACES, are VERY CLOSE to the SAME NUMBER! IN other words, IF Breeding FOR MONEY was NOT ALLOWED, Millions of animals would Have a Much Better Chance of being Adopted! PERIOD! There are over 10,000 "MILLS" and there are NOT enough Spays and Neuters Done because MOST People cannot even AFFORD those LOW COST places, let alone to feed them, and get them the Very least amount of VET Care needed. If I were Younger I'd write a book, but if anyone would take over what I have Written, MY PLAN to END ALL the MILLIONS OF Animals being "Euthanized" Every year, and for NO MORE MASS BREEDING and MORE Spay and Neutering, Please, just let me know, and I will Gladly Hand over ALL that I have. I have been writing and planning a Narrative for a NATIONAL PLAN that WOULD WORK, but I cannot get the narrative short enough to Put where I Need to Put it for a National Plan to START. BTW..these animals are NOT "Euthanized" they are however, Murdered. Their Lives are TAKEN for No More or less than Not having a HOME to GO TO, Not enough MONEY to care for them, whether it be at a shelter or a home, and not enough SPACE to HOUSE them all. As long as the "SUPPLY is MORE" than the "DEMAND", this IS THE COMMON SENSE, THAT and factor in BIG MONEY, and POLITICS TOO..and you have the over 50++++ years of animals being Killed in One way or Another…for "MONEY!" How much money would EVERY COUNTY SAVE times the #'s of shelters, Just Enforcing the ANIMAL CONTROL Duties of Each County? Wouldn't YOU rather see THAT MONEY going to HELP SAVE these animals instead of Millions EVERY YEAR going OUT IN A BAG OR ASHES? NONE of them Deserve that, and until WE as a HUMANE?? Society, START to TREAT Animals with the HUMANITY we are SUPPOSED to Possess? Well than the INHUMANITY SHOWN Towards animals will also be an everyday part of Inhumanity being the "NORM" Towards ALL Animals, and… People too!
Thank you for such kind words. People like you save the world one furry life at a time. Although it may seem like an endless uphill battle with odds stacked against us with too many people that value money over innocent life; and a political system s that does not care; every single innocent life you have touched makes a difference. Stay the course and keep your passion. Thank you for taking the time to offer such a kind and thoughtful commentary.