I’m an animal welfare advocate. Not to be confused with animal rights advocate. I’m mainstream, educated and aware of the issues surrounding companion animals, but I’m not a member of PETA (or the No-Kill Nation for that matter). I am a writer, and President/Founder of Companions For Life. I’m a member of the City of Dallas Animal Shelter Commission, which I’m very proud of, although it can be a beating. I’m on the Advisory Boards of several DFW area rescue groups and I’m currently working for the Texas Animal Shelter Coalition and the Texas Federation of Humane Societies coordinating the Texas Unites for Animals 2011/2012/2013 Conferences. Say that fast three times. I am a member of the Cat Writers Association, and I do Social Media for Dallas Animal Services (Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest).
I support rescue groups and shelters across North Texas financially, through my writing, and by sharing my connections and my experience, and through Companions For Life by providing education, training, resources, and more. I don’t do a lot of hands-on rescue myself, though. I used to, but after a few too many foster failures, and an “Ah-ha” moment, I decided to focus on the “big picture” and be part of the solution to pet overpopulation. More on that later. And yes, I realize there’s probably a style-guide somewhere that says using ” ” twice in one sentence is a no-no, but you’ll find I’m not a stickler for grammar.
I still do some freelance bookkeeping for a few select non-profit animal welfare groups. And I’m writing a book to help small non-profits do a better job of handling their finances. I should mention my hobbies but I can’t think of any. I spend most of my waking hours on animal welfare stuff. I do like Facebook and red wine, although not together. I read a lot, and I like photography. I have a wonderful husband who supports everything I do (lucky, huh?) and wonderful friends who don’t think I’m crazy (because they’re all in rescue, of course). I’m a very, very lucky person and I live a very fulfilling life.
My pets? I’m a cat person and have a small herd of them. They help with all my writing. That’s James you’ll see on my Facebook profile. Some friends and I went out to help a fellow rescuer TNR a group of feral cats a few years ago. As soon as we drove up and started unloading our trap, James came out to greet us. He rubbed up against our legs, demanded to be petted, and asked if he could come home with us. Then he jumped in the car and waited until I could find a carrier to borrow (since I wasn’t going to put such a friendly guy in a trap). The first year here, he never let me out of his sight. I figure if he’s smart enough to recognize an outstanding opportunity when he sees it, he’s smart enough to help me write my blog. That and he’s the only one that would pose in front of the computer. James is also President of the Black Cat Coalition. It’s an elite group of black cats (and one 50% black). Their mission is to protect the “bad-assness” of black cats and erase all evidence that they care about their people (and like to have their belly rubbed).
I have two dogs, too, and love them immensely, which is weird because as I said I am a cat person. Trixie & Norton are siblings and they’re getting up in years. I was on my way to a client’s house one day ten years ago when they ran across four lanes of traffic on Gaston Avenue right in front of me. They were only twelve weeks old at the time. A guy waiting for the bus helped me round them up and put them in my car. I drove around in the August heat for hours trying to find a shelter that would take them (chow/heeler mixes – chow being the operative word.) They were turned down by several of the shelters I now support. Irony. Eventually “the puppies”, as they are still known, threw up in the back seat of my Mercedes and I gave up and took them home. They’ve been here ever since.
OK, now for the preachy part. Rescue is never, ever going to end pet overpopulation. Dallas Animal Services euthanized 24,793 animals last year. Unless you have foster homes available for that many, we still have a problem. And it’s a complex problem. Personally, I think the answer is a combination of things - Education, Sterilization, Legislation, and Retention.
-Education – teaching responsible pet ownership and compassion is key to creating a society that cares about pets;
-Sterilization – every dog or cat should be spayed or neutered and free and low-cost spay/neuter programs are the key (please don’t tell me dogs & cats will become extinct because I’m not that stupid. If you believe that, I’ve got some ocean-front property to sell you);
-Legislation – because no matter how much you educate some people are just to stupid or too lazy to do the right thing;
-Retention – This one’s huge. There’s a solution to cats that don’t use their litter box and dogs that tear up your stuff, and it’s not taking the animal to the shelter. There are ways to pay for emergency vet bills, either through financing or grants. There are ways to find lost pets and 90% of you go about it wrong. And I know it is hard to believe, but there are apartment complexes and rental homes that allow pets! Really!
That about covers everything the smart folks at Blog Paws say should be included on an About Us page. Don’t trip over each other in your haste to sign up now that I’ve told you who I am.
P.S. I may have failed to mention my somewhat distorted sense of humor. Sorry, but it helps me cope.