Welcome to the first of our Fireside Chats! Like the original Fireside Chats, held by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression, we wanted to find a friendly way to bring us all together at a time many of us are feeling isolated as we practice social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
We know that even as certain parts of our lives are put on hold, we are still duty-bound to fulfill our humane promises to the animals of the world, and we will fulfill them despite the obstacles we face.
As difficult as these times are, we are fortunate enough to be the heirs to an impressive legacy of endurance through some of the greatest challenges of history.
American Humane has persevered through two world wars, when we saved and cared for nearly a million wounded animals; the Great Depression when people and animals alike were starving by the millions; unfathomably destructive disasters like the Great Ohio Flood of 1937, which devastated the country from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois; Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, Sandy and Dorian (which so many of you remember), and the devastating wildfires in California and Australia.
And through it all, American Humane’s heroes and its faithful supporters continued to improve and save lives.
Today, we have the opportunity to be the heroes who will someday be remembered for keeping our lifesaving mission going through the greatest pandemic in modern times, fighting for animals who cannot speak for themselves, and building a more humane world for all of us.
But none of us will be able to help any animals if we don’t take care of ourselves and stay well and in fighting shape. So:
- Please follow social distancing rules and keep your hands washed.
- Know that pets CANNOT transmit the disease. But also know that it’s not the best time to be giving kisses to your neighbor’s pets – or letting them pet yours – as the virus can live outside the body on surfaces – including animals’ – for some period of time. So, ideally, social distancing applies to our best friends, as well.
- And because we are all part of a larger community and leaders in the humane movement, consider checking in on older neighbors with pets and see if they need something or if you can drop pet food off on their porch.
Let me tell you just a little about the battles we are waging on many fronts to help those who most need it:
American Humane Rescue
The current worldwide crisis is leaving animals without homes, shutting down adoption events for shelters and rescues, and leaving too many abandoned pets hungry and in desperate need of supplies. In response to the overwhelming number of calls we are receiving from animal rescuers, shelters and first responders, American Humane is launching a “Feed the Hungry Fund” fund. This fund will provide much-needed basic supplies for animals, like food, kitty litter and medical supplies. These basic necessities are needed now more than ever as supply chains are strained and stay-at-home orders are negatively affecting animal welfare groups. Please visit our website at www.AmericanHumane.org to learn more and support this lifesaving effort.
In addition, our rescue team is also working through the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition and other state and municipal bodies to monitor animal needs during these trying times. We stand ready to assist animals in need during this crisis.
American Humane Military Programs
American Humane has been serving those who serve our nation – active military, veterans, and military animals – for more than 100 years. Now, our programs continue to produce victories. In our Pups4Patriots program, which identifies animals in need of forever homes, trains, and pairs them with veterans coping with Post-traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, we have 22 teams in training at this very moment across eight states. These veterans need our help and service dogs more than ever during this time of anxiety and stress.
To demonstrate the impact this program has, I would like to share with you an excerpt from a letter we received from one of our veteran graduates, Kris, about his service dog Andi:
Andi and I are doing great during this pandemic. She senses things are different and we are making the best of things. We aren’t going out into public hardly at all, due to me being high risk with my restrictive lung disease from working the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.
Andi still keeps me up and active by bringing me her toys or tennis balls and reminding me that we can go outside and play in the backyard.
Due to us not going out into public much, I still work with her and put her vest on her and take her out for drives around town. She enjoys the head out the window and smelling all the new things.
Andi’s become a great caddy for me on the golf course. She loves riding in the golf cart and she’ll just sit next to the green and watch us putt. She’s so in love with me, she just won’t ever let me out of her sight.
So, in closing, Andi is an absolute Godsend for me. Not sure how I would’ve handled this pandemic and in-house quarantine without her. I can just look over at her and it brings me to an instant smile!
She’s by far, my best friend and my co-pilot in this thing we can life!
God Bless you American Humane for giving me my life back!
– Kris and Andi
Our Battle Buddies program, which reunites retired military hero dogs with their hero handlers, is also continuing to work on behalf of our two- and four-legged warriors. We just received a call from a base in Japan where Military Working Dog Elvis, retired from the U.S. Air Force, is looking for a ride home to join his former handler in New Mexico. Right now, flight logistics are nearly impossible, but we are aiming to bring him home in late April or May.
We also continue to advocate for and support legislation in the House and Senate designed to help pair veterans suffering from post-deployment mental health issues with trained service dogs.
Helping Ensure the Safety and Well-being of Animals Worldwide
American Humane is the largest certifier of animal welfare in the world, using science-based standards and measures to help ensure the safety and well-being of nearly one billion living creatures on farm and ranches, on film and television production sets, and in zoological settings. The global coronavirus pandemic has temporarily closed down many of these facilities to the public. Still, we have new productions, agricultural producers, zoos and aquariums inviting us to monitor their operations every day, expanding our humane reach.
One of the most important things we can do right now is advocate for animals and reach the American public with information that may save lives.
Over the past few weeks, we have reached millions with vital information and advice, battling untrue and potentially lethal rumors and misinformation that was being spread about the possibility of pets spreading the virus (they don’t), and actively encouraging people who are sheltering at home alone to take this chance and foster a shelter animal….improving one life and perhaps saving another.
In addition to our social channels which reach hundreds of thousands of people, our news is being carried nationwide in many of the biggest media including:
NBC’S “TODAY SHOW” news site, which published a giant feature on American Humane’s call to action urging the public to foster a shelter pet. (The article was shared 137 times on Twitter including by the @TODAYshow, @TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna), and TODAY Health & Wellness (@TODAYshowHealth)
GLAMOUR Magazine with its 14 million print readers and 40.1 MILLION online readers ran a big feature on sheltering with a foster pet and asked people to support our work.
PEOPLE Magazine, which reaches an audience of 96 million people, pointed to our message that pet owners must treat their animals with kindness more than ever in the confusion and rash actions being taken in response to the coronavirus. The article was shared on Twitter 70 times.
YAHOO!, AOL, MSN, and pet publications across the country like our board member Dr. Marty Becker’s popular “Fear Free Happy Homes” news site spread American Humane’s message that pets cannot spread the virus.
And 1,500 stations of the Fox News Radio Network carried our vital plea not to abandon pets because of misleading rumors about the coronavirus.
Once again and as always, American Humane, our experts, and our supporters are coming to the aid of our best friends….in their worst times.
This is a challenging time for many, but for an organization with our history, experience, and moxie, it is proving yet again to be one where we shine most and be our most courageous.
FDR once said that “War is a contagion.” Today, contagion is a war – one that we are engaged in fully. And all of us are the ones on the front lines of winning the battle for the animals whose lives we defend every day.
Thank you all for what you have done, are doing, and are continuing to do every day for the cause of animals.