My Dad Terry is going to share some interesting information with you today.
As most of you know, I attended the BlogPaws Conference in Tysons Corner, VA earlier this month thanks to the sponsorship of Purina. As a brand, our family has used countless Purina cat and dog products throughout the years and we’ve come to know them as the pet food company we can count on to get it right. But when I visited the Purina Headquarters in St. Louis, MO last October with the other Purina pet bloggers, their commitment to their products and the welfare of pets took on a whole new meaning for me. Whatever mental image I had of a big “corporate giant” in the pet food industry was transformed into one blending real people, real pets, and real compassion for pet welfare, the perfect synergy.
Pet Welfare in America was one of the presentations at BlogPaws sponsored by Purina. When I saw that Brenda Bax from Purina and David Meyers from Adopt-a-Pet were doing the presentation I was beyond thrilled. I met Brenda Bax at Purina last October and believe me, I could feel her compassion for this topic. While I learned about Adopt a Pet while visiting Purina, I had not met David Meyers previously I was anxious to hear his perspective from the adoption front lines. Please check out the terrific programs at Purina Pet Welfare and Adopt a Pet.
As with any presentation, different people come away with different key points, so I’m going to summarize the two top points that had an impact on me:
Let’s start with collaboration. This one sure gets the wheels turning. Think about the area where you live. How many pet rescues or shelters are in your immediate area? In close proximity to where I live, in Upstate South Carolina, there are around 50 such organizations. While some of the groups in my area may work together occasionally in some informal way, I really don’t see any real organized effort to pull these groups together. After all, the one goal in each organization is to help pets, make their lives better, and find them homes. Back in 2009 Purina was instrument in bring just such a group together in St. Louis, to discuss improving the lives of cats and dogs in their community. This organization now has the attention and involvement from many corporations, foundations, civic leaders, educational institutions, and many other groups with the common mission of increasing the save rate of cats and dogs and to achieve goals that no one group can achieve alone. This particular group is now known as The St.Louis Petlover Coalition and I highly recommend that you visit their site which is filled with information and inspiration. So, back to my original question. How many pet rescues or shelters are in your immediate area? Do they all work together with one common goal to help the animals? If the answer is no, what can you do to encourage a coming together with a commonality of purpose, for the good of the animals?
Imagine the possibilities of groups actually working together instead of unintentionally against each other. Each group likely promotes spay and neuter, but imagine the impact of a coordinated community program with a viable base of corporate sponsorships. What do you want the lives of pets to be like in your community? Perhaps, as a collaborative effort, your group could develop an educational program focusing on the importance of pets, pet care and respect and find a way to get that in front of your grade school and middle school youngsters. Each year there are too many pets that simply get lost for some reason. How about a common database of found pets in your area (see STL Lost Pets as an example). How about the real obvious one, finding homes for the shelter pets. Have you ever tried to find a shelter willing to take a pet you found? It can be tedious and time consuming making call after call. Perhaps a collaborative group could develop a common way to know what shelter space is available where. Cat Rescue #1 may be full but they know for a fact that Cat Rescue #5 just had two spots open up, something they really might only know because they are working together with a common purpose.
Then there is perception. We’ve all heard the saying “perception is reality” and there’s a lot of truth there. It doesn’t really matter if it is true or not, if you perceive it to be true, then it’s true to you. Okay, what did you do with your imagination cap? Put it on please. Have you ever seen photos of shelter dogs or cats that looked pretty sad? For most of you the answer is probably yes. Imagine one of those photos, a poor dog, a white dog, with a few black patches, and his white fur is filthy dirty, and he is backed up in his kennel simply looking lost and confused. Even the kennel looks dirty and unpleasant. Oh those sad eyes. Now then, imagine the same sweet doggie, with a bath, with some love and attention for a little while, and with a nice backdrop and a nice blue and white bandana. Smiling, the doggie is actually smiling. Get that great photo. That’s the image you want to plant in the memory of potential adopters. All too often the photos we see are of distressed pet. While they may indeed be distressed, they are not damaged goods, they are homeless and craving love and attention. Perceptions matter. There are great photographers out there, great animal photographers, who might love to help and would love to have their photo credits on the internet for the world to see. Think about your home shelters, how do they portray their pets?
Yes, a picture is really worth a thousand words and can make a life savings difference. Take a look at some of the before and after photos at Shelter-Me Photography, and you will get the idea. They also have a wonderful Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/ShelterMePhoto and they offer wonderful tips on pet photography.
One thing I can tell you about this presentation, Brenda Bax and David Meyers are totally committed to making the lives better for all homeless pets, they live it and breathe it, and it shows. Honestly, the before and after pictures, especially the after pictures, always make me cry happy tears when I see those beautiful critter faces. I am so thankful that Purina lives the seriousness of pet welfare on a daily basis.
Disclosure: Purina is my sponsor and provided the funding for me to attend the BlogPaws Conference. The opinions of this presentation are solely my own.