Today, Bad Rap had a great blog featuring photos of a recent shot clinic that they had in an Oakland area community. I'm going to make you click through to see the pics -- but I highly recommend you watch the entire slide show (30 or so pics).
For about a decade now, Bad Rap has been working in the East Bay area to do outreach into some of the low-income communities in the Oakland area. Oakland has a lot of problem areas -- with over 17% of the population living below the poverty line. It can be a tough crowd at times.
But Bad Rap has persisted. They continue to offer free services for shots, spay/neuters, collars and even training.
And people come. And they come early -- with one woman coming 3 hours early to be sure her dog was able to get in line. The pride that these people show for their animals in these photos tells a story of people -- many of them struggling to make ends meet -- doing right by the dogs. And that's pretty cool.
Bad Rap has gotten there in these communities by HELPING these people become better dog owners. As an animal welfare community, we have somehow gotten in our minds that we need to try to punish people for not altering their pets -- and consider them 'not worthy' of pet ownership if they don't. So instead of taking the time to educate, and to be part of the community and being people who want to help, we become the people trying to take their pets away.
And if the animal welfare continues to create a divide between itself and various communities, we will fail. As Donna notes in the post: "To decrease euthanasia rates and curb irresponsible ownership, we need proactive, cost effective solutions to embrace the human-animal bond, rather than tear it down."
Those are wise words.
These types of proactive, targeted outreach unequivocally work -- and are why the majority of animal welfare organizations prefer them to mandatory spay/neuter laws. Here are the current statements from several of the national animal welfare organizations on mandatory sterilization laws that are built to punish owners for not complying vs working with them to create communities of responsible pet owners:
American Humane Association - Mandatory Spay/Neuter -the right fix for your community?
No Kill Advocacy Center - The Dark Side of Mandatory Laws - Why Punitive Legislation Fails
And for good measure, you can read Peter Marsh's A Strategy for Tomorrow
It seems that it's 'common knowledge' that people in the projects won't comply with voluntary spay/neuter programs....but 'common knowldege' is wrong.
Working WITH pet owners to help them become better pet owners is a far better approach than trying to punish them into submission -- and it's the kinder way too - for both the animals and the owners.