The Most Important Dog Files Post Of The Year: Dog Files Opinion

From tiny actions come big things!

2012 was one tough year on everybody, including the dogs.

Shelters were down on their adoption numbers and the ranks of dogs dropped off to the shelters rose. This is one of the unforeseen consequences of a terrible economy. People can’t afford their animals.

During this embarrassing past election season, while partisans where screaming about such none issues as who put a dog in a crate on top of their car and who ate a dog when he was a child, the rest of us Americans, and their pets, suffered and limped through a the fourth year of a recession.

But hey, I’ve always been an optimist and with a brand new January comes a sense that this is the year things get better. And in turn, better for our beloved animals. The same animals that either prosper or suffer at our hands, but always, ALWAYS still love us unconditionally.

If you’ve been on the sidelines of animal welfare, seeing and reading what’s going on but that’s about it, 2013 would be a great year for you to help out. Many people start and stop by donating money, but there is so much more you can do to help. Let’s list them.

1. Donate money, time or materials to small, local, grass roots rescue groups that have been hit especially hard in this recession.

Of course they need money, but they also need folks to foster dogs in their homes while they look for adopters. Keeping the pups in a home environment, elevates the chance of them being adopted quicker because the dogs are relaxed and happy, which is usually the opposite of how they are if they sit in a loud, stressful kennel environment while waiting to be adopted.

Rescue groups also need dog food, dog treats, toys, beds, blankets, and medicine. In fact, just ask them what they need and I’m sure they will provide you with a list.

2. Comfort Dogs.

Volunteer to take your well trained, certified dog to hospitals, rehabs centers, old age homes, orphanages, any place where people need a few moments of happiness in a life that has grown increasing grim. You would be amazed how much this means to old folks as well as young. And as an added bonus, it makes you feel incredible.

3. Walk your dogs.

C’mon guys admit it, you barely walk your dog. I know it’s hard, but you owe it to your dogs and to yourself. In 2012, I started walking my pups regularly and the benefits have been pronounced. Max and Remy both lost about 5lb. and have never looked healthier. Max is 11 years old and can’t wait for his walk. Routinely, when he is near dogs that are 7, 8, or 9 years old, people think Max is the younger dog. And chubby Remy has a waist again!

As for me, with a sensible diet, I dropped 80lb., my blood pressure went from 130/90 to 119/66 and my resting heart rate has dropped to 47. The average is 60 to 90. 40′s is considered athlete territory. I also feel happier and healthier and I did this by walking 5 days a week with the hounds.

As an extra benefit, I’ve become known in my neighborhood as the dog guy. People stop to ask me questions about dogs and kids stop to pet Max and Remy. I use the time to talk about adoption, spay/neutering, kid safety around canines and good dog parenting. Pretty much a win/win for everybody.

4. Volunteer at your local shelter.

Spend a day, a week, whatever free time you might have at a helping out at a local shelter. Cleaning kennels, playing with the dogs, maybe taking them for walks. It ALL helps.

5. Okay, here’s the hardest one for some people to do, but also the easiest.

Stop criticizing every thing, every one, every organization that doesn’t do things 100% as you would do them. I know this seems out of left field, but this is the one thing that hurts the canine welfare world more than anything. The Dog Files has been around for five years and I’ve seen or felt this on numerous occasions. In fact, I have a saying that I tell everyone that has ever helped the Dog Files.

It’s All About The Dogs!

Yep, a simple yet powerful sentence. My belief is that if I didn’t work with a group unless our views and methods were 100% alike, nothing would ever get done. Nada. And then only one thing suffers. Dogs.

The internet is an incredible piece of technology and probably up there with fire and the wheel in it’s importance. But because we can go online and seek out people who completely share our views and build a fort around those views and fight to the death for those views, we may be missing out on things we can be doing to help dogs. To twist up a famous saying, we may be so intent on examining and criticizing the individual trees, that we are missing out on helping the forest.

Believe me, I have tons of friends in the dog world that have the exact opposite political views than I have. But when it comes to the doggies, we are lockstep in our beliefs and I value them as allies. They also know they can depend on me to help them out too.

6. Start a rescue group, foster group, non-profit organization, etc.

In 2013, I am excited and pleased to announce that the Dog Files will be starting a non-profit called, what else, the Dog Files Foundation. We have a two-fold mission that I developed by watching and learning about the dog welfare world over the past five years.

First, we aim to give grass roots rescue groups the support they need to thrive and continue to save dogs. I’m hoping DFF can help rescue groups adopt out more dogs than ever.

Secondly, we want to educate regular folks about why dogs deserve our love, care and respect and to help build animal empathy in children on a nationwide level.

If you would like to help, please join us at Dog Files Foundation and click “LIKE”. This way, as we make announcements over the coming months, you may see a way you can help.

And yes, you too can start your own group. My good friend, Linda Schiller started Eleventh Hour Rescue and has saved THOUSANDS of dogs. She’s a hero in my book and in the book of thousands of families who have adopted a pup from Eleventh Hour Rescue.

7. The Straw Man Argument.

And lastly, this is a personal pet peeve of mine, don’t listen to the pessimists out there that tell you, you are wasting your time helping dogs. If you work in animal welfare or support it, I know you’ve heard this.

“Why are you wasting your time helping animals, when children are dying?” or, “I’ll donate to animal causes when you donate to human causes!”

It’s a straw man argument that people use to win an argument. It’s nonsense. You didn’t say you don’t help humans, you just said you help dogs.

And here’s why it’s an ignorant argument.

You can do both.

And in fact, helping dogs helps humans. Over the years, I’ve seen so many people’s lives changed for the better because of the love that a dog has shared with them. Dogs make people happier, healthier and saner. They bring us comfort and help us deal with the tough parts of life. They bring people together. They protect us. They are one of the things in life that make it better by their mere presence.

Dogs and humans have had a sacred bond for over 20,000 years that no two other species have ever shared on this planet. I don’t know about you, but I have to believe there is a reason the dog is God spelled backwards.

And if those naysayers won’t go away, send them to the Dog Files where almost every story we post is about a dog’s positive effect on a human being.

And now it’s up to you.

Do we make a difference in 2013? Do YOU make a difference in 2013? It doesn’t have to be monumental. It can just be something small. You’d be surprised how something small can blossom into something gigantic.

An example? Ten years ago, I adopted a scared, skinny pup from the shelter. I named him Max, he changed my life and now I’m trying to make every dog as fortunate as Max and Remy and hopefully, enrich people’s lives in the process.

Please feel free to leave a comment below about what YOU plan to do to help dogs in 2013. Also, let us know your suggestions for other things people can do, that I may have missed. Together, things can and will get better for dog AND humans!

But hey, I’m an optimist.

Kenn Bell
Dog Files Creator

Comments

  1. says

    I have gone without food myself, just to make shure my animals were fed..I can always invite myself over to a friend’s around suppertime, my pets do not have that option. It is called total responsibility. People should try a helping of it. It would change the horrid stats..Cheers all..

  2. Aggeliki -treat2treat.com says

    Excellent article. Here in Greece it’s more or less the same. The laws don’t protect animals in a satisfying way. There are hundreds of dogs abandoned but also there are mass poisonings in many areas. In my website i try to give advice to people of my country before they have a dog and make them consider about the responsibilities that they are about to take.

  3. Coleen Taylor says

    Excellent message Mr. Bell! 2013 will be the year I selfishly do something for ME. In December of 2012 I happened upon Yonkers Animal Shelter. A run-down hard-scrabble shelter where hearts of gold wait at every turn. Technically they are NOT a no-kill shelter; rather, they describe themselves as NOT being able to have a no-kill mentality. So their dogs wait. And wait. And wait. What I wish folks could understand is if they adopted from Yonkers Animal Shelter, a space would open for another dog who might otherwise be euthanized. TWO lives saved, instead of one.

    When I visited Yonkers Animal Shelter, I dropped off blankets and a bit of moola to get a few dogs closer to a forever home. I have two dogs which is my limit for where I live. So I chose to sponsor adoptions or fosters for this new year. It is really a very selfish thing, as I get a tremendous rush from doing this. So I ask of anyone who is able: check out YAS, share on FB their very deserving dogs, and adopt, foster, or sponsor if you can. The personal reward cannot be measured.
    Thx, Coleen Taylor

  4. Valerie says

    Ken,keep up the great work! I volunteer with Husky House based in Matawan NJ. We are fortunate to having a boarding facility for our orphans which by the way includes EVERY type of dog not just huskies and we are always looking for volunteers and monetary donations as well as anything that will make our pooches feel more comfortable. We especially need detergents, biscuits, paper towels and weewee pads.
    Check us out at Husky House.org.

  5. denise says

    Thanks for working to help rescue groups get more adoptions! Our group needs that every week. We continue to look for any opportunity to get our dogs out of our local, high kill shelter and to a forever home. Helping Hounds Find Homes is the local non-profit rescue I support. You are exactly right…start local and do whatever you can to make a difference!

  6. says

    Thank for this wonderful insight. I’m also having a tough time taking care of my pets because of our economy. But I would never give them to a shelter. Do you any tips on how to take care of our pets in a much cheaper way?

  7. Ems says

    #5 is SO important. I use to work with a breed rescue here in Vancouver. The politics & “infighting” – even amongst our own small board – are ridiculous. I helped them get registered as a non profit, did most of the admin work, fostered, did home visits, etc. Then I left due to the narrowmindedness of one of the directors. A few years passed, I thought things had changed so I rejoined as VP as the president was stepping down. It lasted 7 months until the infighting started again – over misinformation by the same director. Just ridculous. And another local (same breed) rescue was chastising all of us due to the comments of one, as they did not see eye to eye on the matter of importing dogs from US shelters to Canada, while we have so many dogs here in shelters. To each his own and yes, it SHOULD be “all about the dogs” – that is how I feel, but when others make it so difficult to help the dogs, it makes you wonder ‘what’s the point’. It’s really really unfortunate.




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