How did compassion for living, breathing, sentient beings put those of us involved in animal rescue on opposite sides of the animal welfare issue? While it appears that those of us in animal rescue all love animals and want to protect them, we find independent companion animal rescue groups an excellent example of the schism that often occurs among those who “speak for the animals.”
The group, often begun by a handful of volunteers from a local shelter, starts off with the best of intentions to save animals on death row at the local shelter or from starvation, accident, illness, or death from the streets of its community. But along the way, Sally doesn’t like Joe’s way of handling a particular adoption; Melody fights with Rosetta about the age at which a kitten should be spayed/neutered; Roland refuses to accept any dogs of a specific breed into the group. Sides are taken, flaming emails are circulated. The group begins to disintegrate.
So, what do Joe, Rosetta, and Roland do? They go off and establish their own group or maybe even three separate groups. So now, instead of working with each other, they apparently are working against each other. Instead of using the power of a large group to solicit funds, influence adoption procedures, and educate the community, there are now four little groups all vying for the same dollars and the same applicants with little power to truly effect change in their community.
If we truly love animals, as most people in rescue do, then we need to love the human animal as well and learn to get along with him or her. We need to put aside our differences and strive to find our similarities. We need to work from a common foundation to correct what needs correcting to protect the animals of our communities. We need to listen to each other, discuss calmly our differences, and be flexible enough to see the bigger picture—that we are saving lives.
When you think about it… if those of us in animal rescue aren’t on the same side of the fence, what will happen to the animals?