Posts Tagged ‘best friends animal society’

How to be a spiritual warrior for animals

Today I want to share about a subject close to my heart: compassionate conservation. Not too many people talk about this peaceful approach to conservation (though I hope they start), but recent heartbreaking stories in the news remind me, yet again, just how desperately all animals need better protections worldwide.

Managing wildlife populations is complicated; I get that. But the international field of compassionate conservation helps us to stay true to our ethics when it comes to solving problems where killing healthy animals in the name of conservation or cost concerns seems to be the only viable answer (case in point: the 44,000 captive wild horses the Bureau of Land Management just voted to kill). The foundational principle behind compassionate conservation is “first do no harm.” Imagine if more governments and agencies let this belief guide them in situations of human-animal conflict—more animal lives might be saved!

Starting an animal rescue: what you need to know

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start your own animal rescue or sanctuary? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this would be a dream come true. It’s so inspiring to read about others who’ve gone before and turned their ideas for rescues into realities—for instance, Farm Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, Bat World Sanctuary, Center for Great Apes and The Wild Animal Sanctuary (just to name a few). If starting an animal rescue sounds like your true calling in life, here are four questions to ask before you take the leap:

What kinds of animals do you want to save?
There’s a big difference between establishing a small shelter to save a handful of cats and dogs vs. exotic big cats, elephants or horses. Think ahead about what size and type of facility or acreage you’ll need, and if you’ll have access to the resources and space necessary to manage it. Start small in the beginning so you can work out all the kinks and stay on top of what comes—you’ll have the ability to expand later once your rescue takes off.

How comfortable are you with the business side?
At the end of the day, a nonprofit is a business just like any other. You’ll need a team of people you trust and critical business skills to ensure success. Yes, you’ll be helping animals—but you’ll also spend your nights and weekends writing a business plan, filling out paperwork to obtain nonprofit status, managing people and zoning issues, fundraising, handling legal issues and more. If you’re sure starting an animal rescue is for you, learn all you can before you launch. You can take an informative workshop on the topic from Best Friends Animal Society, read books such as How to Start and Run a Rescue by Jennifer Williams, and interview the founders of other rescues for their best tips for success.

Is it really viable in the long term?
An animal rescue can quickly grow out of control if not managed and funded properly. How will you pay for rent, vet bills and so on? Will you be able to raise money, grow membership and pay salaries in the long term? There are also emotional issues such as burnout and compassion fatigue to deal with, which are real risks for those spending their lives helping homeless and abused animals. It’s a lot to think about, but don’t lost hope: Look around at all the animal rescues that inspire you, and keep in mind that they, too, faced challenges such as these in order to start and grow to where they are today.

What’s your ultimate goal?
I’m guessing that your goal is, in general terms, to help animals in need. But sometimes, starting a rescue isn’t the best way to serve those animals. Perhaps your animal rescue idea is already successfully established in your local community, and simply volunteering there might be a better use of your time and resources. Or, instead of a shelter, brainstorm alternative nonprofits you can start to help animals. For instance, my Shelter Animal Reiki Association isn’t an animal rescue, but we do bring Reiki programs into shelters and sanctuaries worldwide—and that work supports hundreds and thousands of animals in a different way.

Do you dream of opening an animal rescue? I’d love to hear about it.

5 books to warm a dog lover’s heart

My dearest dog lovers, are you looking for something special to read this weekend? Curl up with one (or all) of these truly inspirational books about canine rescue …

Dog Is My Copilot: Rescue Tales of Flying Dogs, Second Chances and the Hero Who Might Live Next Door by Patrick Regan: Learn the heartwarming stories behind 24 real-life rescue missions facilitated through Pilots N Paws, a wonderful organization that pairs death-row dogs (and sometimes cats) with aviators willing to fly the animals thousands of miles to their new home, shelter or foster situation. Also included: more than 100 color photos of the pilots with these special canines in flight. $12.70 at Barnes & Noble

dog copilot

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant: This well-researched book is for pit bull lovers especially. Though it’s difficult at times to read about the investigation surrounding Vick’s dog-fighting ring, learning the stories of these beautiful dogs—and the heroic men and women who helped to rescue and rehabilitate them and reshape the public’s perceptions of pit bulls—reminds us that even in darkness, there is hope in humanity. $12.08 at Amazon

lost dogs

DogTown: Tales of Rescue, Rehabilitation and Redemption by Stefan Bechtal: You may remember the National Geographic Channel’s show DogTown, filmed at Best Friends Animal Society a few years ago. (Loved it!) This book, a “companion to the hit” show, highlights the stories of 12 sweet dogs at DogTown and their journeys from rescue through rehabilitation. Though sad at times (some of the so-called “unadoptables” came from terrible situations, such as war zones and puppy mills to dog-fighting rings and hoarding situations), thanks to the dedication of the team at Best Friends, these stories reveal dogs now living happier lives. $11.69 at Amazon

dogtown

Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills by Carol Bradley: In case you’re still not convinced that animals for sale at pet stores should be outlawed, read this. In this book, author Bradley, a newspaper reporter, follows the raid of a horrific puppy mill in Pennsylvania and the subsequent difficulties in making legislative changes (though progress has been made). But this story isn’t just about an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel being rescued; you will see how she rescued her human as well. $13.09 at Amazon

saving gracie

Rescue Ink: Tough Guys on a Mission to Keep Our Animals Safe by Rescue Ink and Denise Flaim: The tough, tattooed bikers behind Rescue Ink are awesome! As revealed in this book, the guys at this Long Island, New York, animal rescue do whatever necessary (“within the means of the law”) to save the lives of all kinds of animals. Included are heartwarming rescue tales of abused and neglected animals, as well as a look at what inspired the various Rescue Ink members to follow this path. Like DogTown above, Rescue Ink is also a companion to a National Geographic Channel show. $13.26 at Amazon

rescue ink

What are your favorite inspirational books for dog lovers?

Amazing vacations for animal lovers

I don’t know about you, but when winter sets in, along with colder, darker days, I like to think about planning a fun future trip. (Even if I don’t book anything, it’s fun to research!) So when I started looking into vacations for the animal lover, wow, I uncovered some of the most absolutely amazing experiences in all corners in the world. I’m grateful in my life to have the opportunity and ability to travel if and when I need to. With that in mind, here are five things I’m feeling gratitude for today …

1. Amazing (animal-friendly) vacations for animal lovers: One of these I’ve done: Best Friends Animal Society. (Totally recommended!) But that’s just a start … how about visiting the rescued farm animals of Catskill Animal Sanctuary while exploring their amazing vegan cooking classes and even staying on site? How about riding horses in Iceland! Or touring the Kangaroo Sanctuary at sunset in Australia, going “wolf howling” in Minnesota, sleeping with sloths at Costa Rica’s Sloth Sanctuary B&B, attending the Golden Retriever festival in Scotland, dining with giraffes in Kenya, sharing the beach with wild horses in Maryland, or visiting Japan’s famous bunny-covered island? And more! Links here, here and here.

2. The special bonds between shelter pets and adopted kids: This heartful essay by adoptee Lisa Bernier shares the science (and emotions) behind the deep connections shared by adopted and foster children with their adopted shelter pets. It’s just one more reason to consider adopting from a shelter and not a breeder or pet store.

3. My Friend: Changing the Journey: I can’t wait to watch this ground-breaking documentary from the CLEAR Foundation, a nonprofit focused on canine lymphoma education, prevention and treatment. The film was recently awarded Best Documentary Feature at the Los Angeles Movie Awards. Unfortunately, too many of us have been affected by our animal friends suffering from cancer.

4. This new PBS series looks interesting: Earth: A New Wild, premiering February 4. Hosted by a conservation scientist, each episode will look at how humankind and animals depend on one another and uncover ways in which we can all live in unity.

5. And for the sports fan: This Sunday is, of course, Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XI! Featuring goat cheerleaders, a pregame show and a Kitty Halftime Show, this yearly tradition is not to be missed.

What are you grateful for this weekend?

Sanctuary spotlight: Best Friends Animal Society

In 2010, Best Friends Animal Society invited me to teach Reiki to a team of their volunteers. I couldn’t wait to share Reiki with the animals. So Charlotte Jensen (my sister), Leah D’Ambrosio (my SARA co-founder) and I piled into a car and made the long desert drive from Vegas to beautiful Utah. We had so much fun! (You can read more about it here.)

Following are some fun facts about Best Friends, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary this past weekend at its national conference in Las Vegas. Congrats on three decades of dedication to the no-kill movement!

CLAIM TO fame: Best Friends is the largest sanctuary for homeless animals in the U.S.

BASED IN: Kanab, Utah

WHERE THE money goes: 78.7% of every dollar directly supports sanctuary programs. (See a full breakdown here.)

NUMBER OF animals at the sanctuary: About 1,700

OPEN HEARTS, open minds: Best Friends welcomes all healing modalities when caring for the animals (including Reiki!).

SWEET SUCCESS story: China, the loving and gentle dog we “borrowed” for our overnight—who lost her owners in Hurricane Katrina—found her forever home last year.

CRAZY FACT: According to Best Friends, Cat World goes through 255,500 pounds of cat litter per year (that’s 700 pounds per day).

STAR POWER: Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, Alyssa Milano, Bill Maher and dozens more lend their support as “celebrity ambassadors.” But Best Friends points out that contributions from individual supporters like us actually fund the majority of the work they do.

TRAVEL TIP: If you choose to stay in one of their cozy cottages like we did, be on the lookout for the “cute” spiders (on the ceiling…in the blankets…on the walls…). Maybe they wanted Reiki, too?

DON’T MISS: Find your peace at Angel’s Landing, a majestic natural amphitheater (and ancient healing ground of the Anasazi) surrounded by trees and carved into a towering rock wall.

{Photos © Charlotte Jensen}