Welcome to our third Fireside Chat for special friends of American Humane!
President Roosevelt held a series of radio addresses during the 1930s and 1940s to bring the nation together during its darkest times and bring a common sense of purpose through the Depression and World War Two.
We wanted to find a friendly way to bring us all together and share vital information at a time when we may be physically separated but so much critical work needs to be done together to protect animals.
I am pleased to be able to share with you that American Humane continues to touch the lives of millions of animals each day and this past week has been especially productive, as we dramatically step up our efforts to reach out to the most vulnerable animals in our communities right now – including those abandoned in shelters struggling to feed and provide critically needed medicines and supplies to the animals in their care.
Thanks to the nationwide call to action issued by American Humane, rescues, and shelters across the country for people not to shelter alone but to bring home a pandemic pet as a quarantine buddy, fostering and adoptions are dramatically up at many shelters. We should all be pleased by the effectiveness of this lifesaving messaging.
What isn’t so well-known, however, is that other shelters – and animals – in more isolated area with fewer people and fewer resources, are not faring so well.
An influential Atlantic Media publication for state and federal government officials just printed a report with the help of American Humane and our key contacts around the country in the shelter community.
The article noted that “rural facilities aren’t necessarily seeing the increased interest in adopting and fostering animals that urban shelters have reported. The situation is different in each locality, and with lockdowns, restrictions on movement and assembly, and the peak of the pandemic coming, we fear the worst is yet to come for shelter animals.”
“Funding is a nearly universal concern, even for shelters who have seen success in clearing their kennels during city-wide quarantines. Adoption fairs and fundraisers—events that bring in the bulk of revenue for most shelters and nonprofits—are off-limits indefinitely, and with a record number of people already filing for unemployment benefits, it’s likely that many residents won’t be in a position to donate directly in the near future.
At the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, donations have dropped nearly 40%. The executive director there, Jess Wnuk, who is a friend of mine, told the reporter, “Our medical bills and payroll are the same so we won’t survive long if I can’t figure something out. Honestly, I am just taking things one day at a time.”
To meet these absolutely vital needs, American Humane launched a national effort to get vital food and emergency supplies to shelters in need, called the “Feed the Hungry” fund.
We have already identified and begun making grants to shelters in states across the country from Louisiana to Florida and applications are coming in every day.
For many shelters, such support may mean the difference between life and death….not only for them, but for the animals for whom they are caring.
Anyone interested in helping this critical effort is urged to visit www.AmericanHumane.org and make a donation. If ever there was a time to help, this is it.
Here is what Jillian Sergio of Companion Animal Alliance in Louisiana said about the grant we just made to them:
“COVID-19 is impacting communities everywhere and Baton Rouge is no different. We know the people of Baton Rouge love their pet and we want to keep as many pets and owners together as possible. We know that during times of stress and anxiety there’s nothing better than the love and comfort your pet provides and now’s the time we need our pets the most. A special thank-you to American Humane for supporting CAA and allowing us to keep families of Baton Rouge together.”
They are very welcome….we understand how hard it is right now. If you or someone you know is interested in supporting this vital campaign to help our nation’s shelters, please visit or have them visit our website at www.AmericanHumane.org.
Of course, this whole pandemic could have been avoided in the first place if only people cared more for animals and treated them better.
Our abysmal global approach to animal welfare, safety and ethics, is the root cause of the situation we find ourselves in and unless we systematically address it through sound programs, we will continue to find ourselves facing pandemic upon pandemic.
To be clear, animals are not to blame in this situation. The same cannot be said for the inaction of people and governments who have broken the social contract with animals we share the world with but who have no voice.
As the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, American Humane steadfastly believes in independent audits of animal operations and standards set by the world’s leading scientists and welfare experts to govern long overdue and needed biosecurity procedures ensuring both animal and human safety.
We are fortunate in the United States to be well ahead of the rest of the world in protecting and ensuring the humane treatment of animals in the wild and on our farms.
Failing animals in even the most remote parts of the world, however, exposes our entire species to risk, illness and economic collapse.
We should be exporting humane practices, our process of independent oversight and our values of compassion or we will risk even more deadly pandemics in the years to come.
Australian Wildfires and Other Species-Saving Efforts
As we deal with a virus that is spreading like wildfire here at home, we simply can’t forget the humane catastrophe that took place and continues to take the lives of animals in the aftermath of the physical wildfires in Australia.
Some one billion animals are reported to have been killed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic wildfires in Australia.
More than 40,000 square miles of the continent have been charred – 13,000 square miles more than were burned in the Amazon and 100 times the area incinerated during the worst wildfires in U.S. history last year in California.
American Humane is working with our humane certified zoos and aquariums to support lifesaving efforts to get veterinary care, food, water, lifesaving medicines and essential supplies to the animal victims.
This critical support is helping place rescued animals in appropriate facilities for care, and return healthy animals to restored habitats so we can revive devastated wildlife populations.
Other Humane Conservation Victories
And even as these heroes rescue animals in Australia, our American Humane Certified zoos and aquariums are working all around the world to keep the rich legacy of life on Earth for the next generation….rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing thousands of wonderful and critically endangered creatures threatened by what scientists are calling the “Sixth Mass Extinction” going on right now – with up to 1 million species in danger of disappearing during our children’s lives!
At American Humane Certified Loro Parque in Spain, which has been called “The Best Zoo in the World” by TripAdvisor, a rare ray of sunshine broke through this dismal forecast – with the recent announcement that they have welcomed a newborn ring-tailed lemur.
Ring-tailed Lemurs, which only live on the island of Madagascar, have declined by more than 50 per cent in just the last 30 years because of mining, logging and poaching.
As a result, the species is now endangered. The birth of this little fellow is good news indeed for this beautiful creature – and for us. It’s one of many, many such stories being written at the leading zoological centers that are keeping so many species alive.
That’s why it’s so important to support American Humane Certified zoos and aquariums. Please, when you want to visit or take your family to a zoo or aquarium, do make sure it is one that is Humane Certified. A list of these outstanding educational destinations is available at www.HumaneConservation.org.
Animals teach us so much. They enrich our lives, and they sustain us both emotionally and physically. It is only right that we do the best we can to treat them humanely. One of the greatest frontiers in the humane movement has been to ensure that the 9 billion animals on farms and ranches live lives that are demonstrably humane and are treated with a high degree of welfare.
American Humane was founded around the issue of farm animal welfare and we created the first independent certification program to help ensure that millions of chickens, pigs, cows, ducks, sheep and other animals are raised with adequate space, proper light and temperature, food and water, and 200 other science-based standards to make their lives humane ones.
Today, working with enlightened farmers and ranchers all across this great land, we oversee the humane treatment of some 1 billion animals every year in agriculture – more than any other program of its kind. And while the pandemic has brought most normal activities to a standstill, it isn’t stopping us from carrying out our vital oversight of these animals.
Using modern technology, we are instituting virtual audits with expert auditors so that we can see into every aspect of production in real time – call it a sort of “Facetime for Farms.” We are using this temporary technology in other certification programs, as well, to maintain our sacred duty to protect animals in this unprecedented situation.
We can support the effort to make a kinder world for so many animals by making food choices that are in line with our values and buying from American Humane Certified producers. You can find a list of them at www.HumaneHeartland.org …. And there are some beautiful recipes there, too….
Being from the South, I just have to recommend the “Best-Ever, Crispy Fried Chicken” made with buttermilk batter. But the key ingredient is American Humane Certified chicken. We have many terrific producers who raise their animals right, including Springer Mountain Farms, Gold’n Plump, Foster Farms, Just Bare, Simply Essentials and Case Farms.
And many of them have delicious and humane recipes on their websites. Start out by going to www.HumaneHeartland.org and enjoy!
American Humane Hollywood
And though the surprise may be over, the delight of so many high-quality film and television productions is not – at this time we all need a little diversion.
We’re pleased to report that in the last year, American Humane Certified Safety Reps were on nearly 1,000 productions, looking to keep any animal actors safe and treated like the stars they are.
And of those 1,000 productions, SEVEN – that’s right – seven, ended up taking home Oscars….which is almost, in our mind, as prestigious as winning the coveted “No Animals Were Harmed®” certification.
So be on the lookout for “1917”… “Joker”… our good friend Quentin Tarantino’s “Once upon a Time in Hollywood”…. “Marriage Story” … “Rocketman” … “Bombshell” … and one of my favorites, “Little Women.”
These are really good movies that you can feel really good about watching.
Speaking of really good, each year for the past 10 years, American Humane has been asking the question: “Who’s a Good Dog?” in our quest to find the very best of our best friends in the annual “American Humane Hero Dog Awards”!
This year, 408 courageous canines were nominated for the title of the nation’s top “American Hero Dog,” with stories that will inspire you, gladden your heart, and maybe even make you shed a tear.
You can play a part in choosing the country’s top dog by voting in the 2020 Hero Dog Awards, which are made possible by our Platinum Presenting Sponsor, the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation and supported by category and organizational sponsors American Airlines and World Pet Association.
Their remarkable stories are all online at www.HeroDogAwards.org and I urge you to visit the site and vote each and every day for your favorites in each of the seven categories.
Let me tell the story of just one nominee named Axel, as written by one of America’s brave veterans:
I adopted Axel at just 9 weeks old as a companion to help me deal with the after-effects of combat from serving in the Marine Corps. We became attached rather quickly. While out in the woods together, I noticed his passion to search for items.
After many weeks I decided to contact a local search-and-rescue K9 team. They conducted a evaluation and decided Axel had what it takes to be a scent dog.
We trained for many months, sharpening our skills together, and completed our certification in firearms and explosives detection. In Axel’s short period on this earth, he has been a companion, a saving grace to a military veteran, and a Search-and-Rescue K9.
He continues to impress me daily and is one of the friendly dogs that the community we serve fell in love with. I nominate Axel for the American Hero dog because not only does he protect a community but saved a veteran from the darkness of war. We all have that “one” dog in our lives and Axel will forever be that dog embedded in my heart. Because of him I am here today and for that he deserves this award.
If you loved this story and you love dogs, get involved and vote at www.HeroDogAwards.org. And be sure to tune in this fall when our Hero Dog Awards is broadcast on Hallmark Channel this fall. You won’t want to miss it!
American Humane Military Programs
As you heard, Axel is not only helping his community, he is also helping a veteran.
At American Humane, we know very well that a dog can be a warrior’s best friend. Not only do we work to train specialized service dogs for veterans coping with PTS and TBI, we also find retired war dog who have been left overseas and bring them home, where they belong.
Recently, American Humane was honored to engineer a happy ending for another of so many brave, four-legged veterans: Military Working Dog Milo.
After a lifetime of service in the Air Force as an explosive detection canine, Milo, an 11-year-old German Shepherd, deserved to retire on U.S. soil. Like all dogs, MWD Milo has slowed down with age, and, given the health complications that older dogs face, was discharged and found himself needing a forever home.
After an adoptive family was found in the States, American Humane worked to fly Milo the 11,000 miles from Korea to Dallas to the family of Senior Airman Christian and his wife, Kara. We are also arranging, as we do with other war dogs, for ongoing veterinary care to make sure Milo has a happy and healthy retirement, spending his days lounging on the couch, playing with toys and running around the back yard.
We at American Humane want to make sure that these hard-working dogs on the front lines of freedom get to do plenty of running around, playing, and, yes, taking plenty of naps. They have earned it.
Military War Dog Milo, thank you for your service!
LIFESAVING TIPS FOR THE UPCOMING STORM SEASON
The uplifting stories of Axel and Milo show yet again how our animals are so often also our heroes.
So when challenging times come that they face trouble, we need to step up and be THEIR heroes.
Every year, tens or even hundreds of thousands of animals are impacted by hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and fires. Meteorologists are now predicting an unusually powerful storm season ahead, so, as with preparations for protecting the rest of your family, it’s never too early to begin emergency planning for your pets.
Some simple tips include the following:
Make sure your pet wears a collar and ID tags that include up-to-date identification and contact information.
Create an animal disaster preparedness plan.
Know where you’ll go if disaster strikes
Choose a safe place where you and your pets can go if you need to evacuate or seek shelter. Contact your veterinarian for a list of recommended boarding facilities, or reach out to your local shelter to ask if they provide emergency shelter for pets. If you are evacuating to a hotel, inquire whether the accommodations are pet-friendly. Most importantly, never leave your pet behind.
Have a pet disaster preparedness kit ready:
Have your pet carrier at the ready, and stock your kit with their leash, food and water bowls, 7-10 days of food, medications and medical records in a waterproof container, and first-aid supplies.
The American Humane Rescue team is also prepared to deploy our fleet of emergency vehicles stocked with medications supplied by Zoetis Petcare at a moment’s notice to help animals in need, but we want to ensure that all pet owners are prepared, too. Please plan ahead to keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe when disaster strikes.
You can find more tips for just about every disaster contingency on our American Humane news site and blog.
Most of us around the world and here at home are focused on the coronavirus pandemic….as we should be.
However, as you heard in today’s update, there are so many animals who need our protection 24/7, year-round. As much as we are able to accomplish, we cannot do it alone.
Which is why I want to thank everyone who has been working with us to help animals in every part of our world.
Please help us spread the word. Our campaigns, our newsletters and our annual Impact Report are all on our website and can help recruit new humane warriors for our cause, which is more vital than ever before.
Thank you all for what you have done, are doing, and are continuing to do every day for the cause of animals.
And my best wishes to those of you who are celebrating Passover and Easter. These celebrations are especially meaningful now during these fearful times when a shadow is cast over the land….for their messages of the hope, deliverance, and renewal for which we all long.
I look forward to speaking with you next week. Please stay safe.