Often as I walk the big guy down Ramsey in the early hours of the morning I hear the neighbors down at the Humane Society greeting the day. Ole Bacchus perks up his ears but soon returns to what's closer at hand and the nose goes back to work.
I thought back to a recent vacation when my husband surprised me with a side trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. We've been supporters for years and I was absolutely in heaven getting to see this remarkable facility first hand and talk with many of the staff.
I am all too aware of the fragmented efforts in our area trying to accomplish the same end. Let me state outright I am in favor of "no kill" facilities. They do work all over the country and in some of the largest metro areas imaginable. They do work. Killing innocent animals doesn't solve a thing and is abhorrent.
Now. We live in a county with somewhere around 100,000 people; not households - people. And how many animal welfare groups are there? I don't know the count but there is the Coeur d'ALene facility, the Humane Society, Paws, a new Post Falls facility, a gentleman somewhere in the Athol area that takes in cats, a couple of young ladies in Rathdrum who take just about anything and how many others I don't begin to know about.
These folks are all looking for volunteers and money. There isn't the economic base to support any of them adequately. Paws event this week end included a multitude of agencies. Could egos be put aside, mission statements be compared and consolidated, with some compromise if necessary, to put together one regional agency that would actually benefit the animals?
Best Friends has more than cats and dogs; they have horses, birds, exotic fowl and ducks and rabbits - you name it. They hold seminars on site and regionally to teach others how to do it. The last one was in Portland. One upcoming in Boston was canceled because Katrina efforts were filling their time.
I've heard from more than one local organization they want to keep it in the Coeur d'ALene area so it isn't out-of-sight- out-of-mind. Best Friends is on an old movie ranch where the Lone Ranger used to be filmed - in the middle of nowhere. Yet people flock to them because they know how to market. They also take their events to the people. Events at the facility no matter where will bring people. Marketing. A major fund raiser a year will keep volunteers interested, busy and keep it in front of the public. You could do an all animal oriented film festival at Riverstone or some such. You'd be buying out the opening night of Lion King for a fund raiser - or Cats.
Mr. Chesrown's family has set up a foundation for, among other things, animal welfare, education and rescue. Would he consider being a mover and shaker for a regional facility? Donate land and build it and let the fund raising go to operating costs? Would Dennis Franz, a proclaimed dog lover, step forward and help generate celebrity support? Would all the developers, builders and realtors whose houses are bringing in people who have these animals become sustaining corporate contributors? (Non profit structure)
There's a wildlife rehab group up in Sandpoint looking for a home; Great Cats of Idaho, a large cat rescue facility desperately needs land to build proper enclosures for cougars, lions and tigers as well as bobs and lynx. None of these folks have a prayer of succeeding on their own - the funds just aren't here. Look at the problems facing the Kroc Center. Can you imagin the public draw if you incorporated all these?
If the above mentioned folks and others like them would get behind one single well orchestrated effort it could succeed. The mentors are out there (Best Friends being but one; but the one I know best). It goes back to another rant of mine - the proper structure and use of a non profit. The right people are here if they'll involve themselves - for the animals.
The area is going to continue to grow and so is the problem of unwanted or neglected or abused animals. To wit the dog hanging last week! The critters have no say in this; we get them into this mess, we owe them an out. We could really put ourselves on the map with such an effort. Anyone out there listening?