Силата в числа - Конференцията "Без Бездомни Животни"
They came from far and wide, from England, Australia, Canada and all across the United States to learn what they could to lower euthanization rates in their communities.
For Lynn Johannessen of Sydney, Australia, attending workshops was the boost she needed to help in her efforts back home with homeless special-needs and critical-care pets. Meeting experts in the field, at the conference hosted in Las Vegas by Best Friends October 24-27, those who have done it first-hand, was the inspiration she said she was looking for.
“I’ve learned so much,” Lynn said. “I want to take these ideas and tips back to Australia. We need a positive change.”
Lynn was one of 650 people – 65 percent of whom had never before attended an animal welfare workshop – who are all about positive change toward a day when there will be no more homeless pets.
The three-day national conference was chock-full of informative sessions, including about puppy mills and how to help those animals, how to not get carried away and take in too many pets, how to assist shy and frightened dogs and cats come out of their shells, how to help a shelter go no-kill, how to get more donors, more foster homes and more volunteers.
Sherry Woodard, an animal behavior consultant for Best Friends, talked about helping frightened, abandoned cats live happy lives again. She used the example of nearly 800 cats, many who were sick, confiscated from a hoarding situation who lived, fenced in, on the dusty, desert floor on two acres mostly to fend for themselves. Best Friends was asked to step in for what became the Great Kitty Rescue.
“With most hoarding situations, cats don’t make it out of there,” Sherry told workshop attendees. “In this situation, they did.” All found homes or went to caring rescue groups.
“The cats amazed us,” Sherry said. “We had so many who changed. As soon as they felt better, they started to play.”
Julie Castle, director of community programs and services for Best Friends, where individuals, teaming together, can make a difference.
But the biggest challenge, she said, is lowering kill rates in municipal shelters where between four and five million dogs and cats are still killed each year. On the positive side, 10 years ago, she said, the number was 15 million. “Look where we’ve come today,” she noted.
Another big challenge is that not everyone values pets.
“It’s a social issue,” Julie said when she addressed attendees Sunday morning. “Every life has value and every life is worth saving.” Together, as an animal welfare movement, “We can make changes. We can make it happen.”
Those changes go beyond spaying and neutering and adopting. It’s people gathered in the conference with record-numbers of attendees who can go back to their communities and make the big changes happen.
And that includes corporations like the ones that joined Best Friends by sponsoring the weekend that are also doing their part in the animal welfare movement. The conference was presented by The Missing Link with sponsorship from PETCO Foundation, Pawtags, The American Dog Magazine and No Paws Left Behind.
“One day in your lifetimes,” Julie told attendees, “you will see no more homeless pets.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
The work of Best Friends is possible only because of your generous support. Please help them reach their goal of No More Homeless Pets.
Learn more about what happened in the conference, including photos and videos, via the blog maintained by many Best Friends employees throughout the event.
For more information:
• NMHP Conference community
• No More Homeless Pets community
Story by Cathy Scott
Photos by Clay Myers, Best Friends photographer