On election day remember the rescuers: Animal advocacy in the voting booth (Opinion)
In the United States, this is perhaps the most important day we’ll have for another four years— election day. The outcomes of thousands of local and national races will determine a great deal about our future for decades or even centuries to come.
Most years in the past I’ve volunteered heavily for various campaigns. This year I voted, but as far as political volunteering goes, I’m sitting it out. Well not sitting exactly. You can’t sit for very long when you’re caring for a sick dog who was recently a parasite-infested bag of bones roaming the streets. I’m running myself ragged, actually.
Which is one reason why election day is important. We animal rescuers have it rough. We all run ourselves ragged. We need people in government who get that. Who understand that it’s not just about the animals. It’s about us too—all of us who care about animals.
We need candidates who recognize that caring about animals is not some wacko fringe neurosis. It’s an extension of caring about people.
We need authorities who see that what we do is not only good for animals but good for society. It’s helpful and constructive and healthy to care about animals.
We need leaders who know that animal rescuers make a community a better place—we make our country a better place.
In a few minutes I have to leave the desk so as to feed, medicate, and walk our current rescued/foster dog. His name is Agapi, the Greek word for “love.” So I can’t write as much as I’d like tonight.
In fact I have dozens of articles about animal issues backed up and waiting in the pipeline. Doing hands-on animal rescue means I haven’t had time to finish and post them.
Which is an additional reason why election day is important. I don’t want to have to keep doing this.
It’s true that I found neither Agapi nor the other two dogs I fostered and re-homed this year in the U.S. Right now I’m in Greece, where you could argue that the situation for animals is worse. But it’s not a lot worse. The status of animals in our beautiful United States is shockingly poor considering our status in the world.
Theoretically we’re one of the planet’s most highly developed countries. It’s a pity that our treatment of and attitudes toward animals reflects that so little.
Which is yet another reason why election day is important. The U.S. is the globe’s leader—or at least trendsetter—in so many ways. Why not in animal welfare?
My goal had been to present a series of interviews with animal-friendly candidates for readers to use in preparation for voting. I failed to meet that goal, in large part because I was rescuing a dog.
I know I’m not the only one whose plans, hopes, and dreams get set aside when we encounter animals in need.
And that’s yet another reason why election day is important. I want my life back. Perhaps, if you’re a rescuer yourself, so do you.
We need leaders bold and visionary enough to march us out of the dismal animal Dark Ages into a brilliant new era of light.
As you go to the polls and make your choices, as you look for the best candidates to address your needs and represent your views, please remember the animals. And please remember the rescuers.
We need your vote too.
For use of the top photo, thank you Yvette Holzbach and Sheri Burtch of Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward Project, a group that does challenging rescue work in Houston, Texas.
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Katerina Lorenzatos Makris is a career journalist, author, and editor. Credits include hundreds of articles for regional wire services and for outlets such as National Geographic Traveler, The San Francisco Chronicle, Travelers’ Tales, NBC’s Petside.com, and Examiner.com (Animal Policy Examiner), a teleplay for CBS-TV, a short story for The Bark magazine, and 17 novels for Avon, E.P. Dutton, Simon and Schuster, and other major publishers.
Together with coauthor Shelley Frost, Katerina wrote a step-by-step guide for hands-on, in-the-trenches dog rescue, Your Adopted Dog: Everything You Need to Know About Rescuing and Caring for a Best Friend in Need (The Lyons Press).
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