1. What was your first experience with animals that had an impact on you?
2. When, how, and why did you first get involved with the animal welfare/rights movement?
I have always loved animals since I can remember. But my first experience that made me want to help animals was at our local animal shelter. I received an email that said the shelter was going to euthanize dogs because they didn’t have the manpower (inmates) to clean up after them. So I went in to help clean. And I went back often after that. I found out that our local shelter sold their dogs & cats to the Class B Dealer (research middle man) and was horrified. I decided it was time to make my voice heard and do whatever I could to make the practice stop. That was Ingham County Animal Control and the practice was stopped in 2003 after a huge outcry from the county citizens.
3. What are your favorite types of animal advocacy activities? Why? (i.e. lobbying, letter-writing, petitions, volunteering, protests, etc.)
I like talking to people who are starting out and wanting to find out what they can do. One motivated person is more powerful than you know. I like to make sure people understand that. If you are a “self starter”, there are so many things you can do on your own and on your own time frame that’ll make a difference. You can write your to your legislator, you can call your legislator, or even make an appointment to meet with them. The list of things one single person can do goes on and on—if you are motivated enough to sit down and do it.
4. What animal issues are you most passionate about?
Without a doubt, pound seizure. Pound seizure is the practice of selling or giving away of shelter cats & dogs for research or experimentation. Right now we are down to ONE animal control in Michigan, Gratiot County Animal Control, that sells to the class B dealer (research middleman). To me that says Michigan does NOT want to take part in this practice. A state law needs to be enacted to end pound seizure in our state.
5. What current animal-related issue or campaign has caught your attention, and why?
Ending pound seizure in Michigan is always on my radar. However, since no legislation was introduced in the 2011-2012 session, I have put my focus on Grant’s bills, SB 423/424. Grant’s bills were named after a friendly dog that was killed in the St. Joseph County gas chamber. If these bills are enacted, they would require that all Michigan animal shelters and Class b dealers euthanize animals via EBI (euthanasia by injection). For more information on Grant’s Bills, please visit: http://michigandersforshelterpets.org/grants-bills/.
6. How do you address animal issues within your career?
My current job is not in the animal welfare industry. I work 9-5 managing a sales office. Which goes to show you will alway find time to do something you love. Anyone can do what I do if they make it priority. Calls, emails and lunchtime faxes make a difference....that is a great place to people to start.
7. What advice do you have for someone looking to become a more active animal advocate?
Step out of your comfort zone! It might seem scary to go talk to a legislator or make that phone call. You will find out that they are just like us. The next time it won’t be so scary and you make more of an impression in person than any other way.
Also, please remember that change does not happen overnight. It can be long and drawn out and very frustrating. But don’t give up. Be consistent, be knowledgeable, be polite, and be persistent!
8. What book, quote, photo, video, story, etc. have you found most inspiring/has inspired you?
I would highly recommend Allie Phillips Defending the Defenseless: A Guide to Protecting & Advocating for Pets. Not just because I was interviewed for the book, but because this book is filled with different ways you can help and make a difference. There is something in the book for everyone, ways you can help that you probably haven’t even thought of before.