Your action saves livesEvery day, I share my enthusiasm for Animal Allies. With so many animal lovers in the Northland, one can easily find people who enjoy a good animal rescue story — of which I have no shortage.
By: Amy Miller, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.
- George Bernard Shaw
Saving lives is the product of action. George Bernard Shaw captures this idea so eloquently in the quote above.
Every day, I share my enthusiasm for Animal Allies. With so many animal lovers in the Northland, one can easily find people who enjoy a good animal rescue story — of which I have no shortage.
Like the story of Misty, the 11-year-old Shih Tzu, whose owner could not afford a necessary medical procedure. She came under shelter care and, after two months of treatment, is happy and healthy in a new loving home.
Or when, just last weekend, a family who had lost everything in a house fire visited Animal Allies Superior. They came for a family outing to lift their spirits. They left with tears of joy upon finding their beloved cat, previously assumed to be lost forever, patiently waiting there for his family.
I always end these happy stories by encouraging a visit to the animal shelter so people can see these miracles firsthand, but am continually surprised by the response.
Although many people are impressed by the accomplishments of the organization, and some remark on how fun it must be to play with kittens and puppies all day, the most common response to the invitation to a shelter tour is a hurried “Oh, I could never go there.”
Why is that?
Most people respond this way because they are certain that feelings of guilt would overcome reason and they wouldn’t be able to leave the building without taking an animal or two, or three, home that very day.
Others insist that it would distress them too much to see poor, homeless animals staring out from their cages with hopeful eyes. They feel desperation when they see the great number of pets who are looking for their second chance.
And many are just plain afraid of animal shelters. They’ve heard horror stories of crowded conditions and frightened animals. The thought of animal shelters evokes the image of scary dogcatchers and city pounds.
To stay away from the shelter is to avoid these feelings of guilt, heartbreak and fear. And, while these are not necessarily examples of “indifference” referred to in Shaw’s quote (those mentioned surely care about the wellbeing of animals), they are instances of inactivity and avoidance — neither of which helps homeless pets.
I challenge you to change your reaction.
Take that first step and visit the shelter. Animal Allies now has adoption centers in two locations: 4006 Airport Road in Duluth and 2225 Hill Ave in Superior.
The shelter is not a place of sadness, but one filled with hope. While I can't promise that there will be no hopeful looks from the dogs and cats meeting your gaze, the anticipation in their eyes will be for the treat in your pocket, a gentle scratch, or a soft-spoken word. The simple gift of your interaction helps socialize the animals, and it brightens their day. And although we are delighted every time a pet finds a loving home, there is no pressure to adopt, because your visit has already helped.
To those of you who volunteer, donate and adopt, I say: Bravo! And for those who don’t currently do so, I say: Animal Allies is ready for you to take action.
There are many ways to reach out to homeless pets: pass along an animal’s story to a friend or share it on your social media page to help an adoptable pet find a home, become an Animal Allies member and financially support adoption, spay/neuter, and humane education programs that accomplish so much, or take your visit one step further and sign up for a volunteer orientation. The shelter is always on the lookout for people interested in enriching animal’s lives in this, their temporary home.
Take part in the amazing accomplishments of animal rescue right here in our neighborhood. Only involvement, not indifference, will ensure that our region — a national leader in animal welfare — will continue to lead the pack.
Amy Miller is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Animal Allies. She lives in Duluth with her husband and three adopted pets: dogs Maverick and Goose and a cat named Buddy Love.