Thursday, August 20, 2009

MnPAW: Collaborating on behalf of homeless dogs and cats

Three plus years ago, after the loss of our beloved collie/shepherd mix Shen to spleen cancer, somehow, someway, the path of grief and healing (nudged by the spirit of Shen), led me to Pet Haven and to Missy, a black lab/pit bull mix, who was our first "foster" dog with Pet Haven and whom we ended up adopting.

[I share my story of Shen and how passion emerges from grief ... it is posted on the Pet Haven site.

I have learned a tremendous amount in the 3+ years that I have immersed myself in the world of animal rescue/animal welfare. I would be lying if I didn't admit that I went through a period where I was disheartened to learn of the divisiveness and the "politics" present in the animal welfare community -- my simplistic mind asked "aren't we all working for the same thing? Aren't we all giving so much of our heart, soul, time, skills to a cause we share -- to rescue and re-home adoptable dogs and cats and to reduce/eliminate the need to euthanize healthy, adoptable dogs and cats?

With the support and guidance of some fellow Pet Haven board members, I continued to hold in my heart, a belief that we would all some day come together to work together in a positive, collaborative and respectful manner. About six months ago, I met with Janelle Dixon, CEO/President of the Animal Humane Society, the largest shelter in Minnesota. Some would criticize me for doing that - my gut told me it was the right thing to do; six months later I can honestly say, it was the right thing to do, for many reasons. I believe, with all my heart, that we MUST all work together. Out of that first 3 hour meeting we learned we had a shared vision. We also acknowledged the path would be steep -- that we would not agree on some things, but that we must build on common ground. We stressed the importance of establishing and building trust amongst leaders of the animal welfare organizations. Out of the meeting, and with the support of many others, a new animal welfare coalition emerged: Minnesota Partnership for Animal Welfare, Out of that meeting emerged the seeds of trust and mutual respect that continue to sprinkle amongst members of the coalition. I am proud to be a part of a coalition that I believe is going to be instrumental in transforming the landscape of the animal welfare community in Minnesota.

This Saturday, August 22nd, MnPAW will be hosting its first adoption event at two locations: in St. Cloud (Tri-County Humane Society) and in the Twin Cities. The adoption event in the Twin Cities will be held from 10 am - 4 pm at the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley and there will be adoptable dogs and cats from Pet Haven, Animal Humane Society, A Rotta Love Plus, Retrieve a Golden of Minnesota and Minnesota Spay Neuter Project. Chuck & Don's will also be there handing out Chuck Bucks!

I am inspired by key leaders of the founding members of MnPAW. As we work together, share ideas, collaborate, explore new ways of doing things ... I find myself even more grateful to be a part of this transformative coalition. To learn more about MnPAW visit the MnPAW site.

"To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable" - Helen Keller

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