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Sat, May 25

Column: Animal welfare, why should you care?

In caring for animals, we care for people too.
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In caring for animals, we care for people too.

We all love preaching to our own choir. But today I would like to speak to the non-animal lovers. We’re in the campaign season, so allow me to campaign to you why you, the “not an animal person,” should care about what animal organizations are doing in our community.

Even though I work in the animal welfare industry, I have many friends, believe it or not, who are not animal people. You’re the person who thinks I’m crazy for hanging up a stocking for my dogs at Christmas, or for calling my dogs my “kids,” or for giving them special treats on their birthday.

You’ll never quite understand my tendency to obsess about my pets, and that is OK. But I would love to present to you some reasons to respect and even support the work animal organizations are doing in our community, even if you’ll never be the person that lets a dog “kiss” you on the face.

The first reason to support the work of animal welfare organizations in our community is because in helping pets, we’re helping people too. Organizations like Animal Disaster Services relieve residents’ worries by caring for animals in evacuation emergencies. Organizations like the Yavapai County Search and Rescue Canine Unit, which use dogs’ incredible ability to locate lost or injured people in the wilderness through their powerful scent capability. Organizations like Yavapai Humane Society, which provides a Safety Net program to care for people’s pets while they are undergoing a temporary hardship, such as domestic violence, hospitalization, or eviction. Organizations like Soldier’s Best Friend, which pairs and trains service dogs with veterans with no cost to the veteran.

In helping pets, you are really helping people.

The second reason is that these organizations keep our community safer and more pleasant. For instance, volunteers of United Animal Friends and Yavapai Humane Society work to trap feral cats in the neighborhood to get them spayed and neutered so our neighborhoods aren’t inundated with community cats. Another example: Yavapai Humane Society provides discounted and free vaccinations to low-income pet owners to keep disease at bay. Further still, Animal Control provides enforcement for pets — keeping loose animals off the street, protecting citizens from dangerous animals, and stopping cruelty to animals. Speaking of cruelty to animals … does it matter to you, the non-animal lover? I would argue that it does.

A number of studies have shown a clear link between animal cruelty and violence against people. In fact, pet abuse is one of four predictors of domestic partner violence.

Again I say, in helping pets, you are really helping people.

We have an incredible community that is coming together to do some incredible things. The human race is amazing when we appreciate one another’s differences, so I don’t expect every person in our neighborhood to love animals the same way that people working in these animal welfare organizations do. However, it’s clear that when Prescott-area residents come together to support the many worthy causes here — including animal welfare — it’s the time when our community is at its best!

So how can you help worthy organizations like Yavapai Humane Society, the others mentioned here, and the many other important groups not mentioned here if pets aren’t really your thing? Volunteers are always needed (and may be an opportunity to connect with animals in a way you haven’t before), but if it’s not your cup of tea, donating, and even simply spreading the word of the good work being done in our community makes a big difference! Thank you for your support — animal lovers and non-animal people alike.

Elisabeth Haugan is the Marketing & Development Director for Yavapai Humane Society. Contact YHS at 928-445-2666 or email info@yavapaihumane.org.

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