Helpless. Frustrated. Angry. Those three words have been ringing in my ears the past few months, and all have a common theme: these words have been shared with me by fellow animal advocates in
North Carolina who are working hard to make a positive difference in the lives of our four-legged companions.
A neighbor who feels helpless because there is nothing in local animal control ordinances to ban the tethering of an animal to a tree. Frustrated when animal owners refuse to spay/neuter their pets, especially when low-cost, and even free, services are available. Angry when puppy mill operators house animals in the most deplorable, inhumane conditions.
We cannot measure our progress on behalf of the animals in days. Like any cause, there are good days, and there are setbacks. We must measure our progress in terms of generations. Just one generation ago, you could visit nearly any major shopping mall in America and you would find a pet store selling puppy mill animals. Those major mall pet stores are gone for the most part, banned and outcast to the shadowy world of strip malls, flea markets, parking lots and Craigslist ads. A generation ago, most states had no laws regulating puppy mills. Today, only a small handful of states still have no puppy mill legislation. (Unfortunately, North Carolina is one of those states.)
Just two years ago, there were 20 counties in North Carolina still using gas chambers as a horrific means of animal euthanasia. Today, that number has dropped to six. One generation ago, it is estimated that 18-20 million animals nationwide were euthanized in shelters each year. Today, while still a tragic amount,
that number is down to 4 million. Because of the encouraging changes that have occurred over time, I remain positive about the future of animal welfare in our state and in our country. And I was honored that the Humane Society of the United States recently used a quote of mine (captioned in the picture above) in their statewide communication to animal advocates across North Carolina.
Many of us know the inspiring quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Gandhi knew all those years ago that kindness to animals is not only what makes a society great… It is what makes a society… humane.