Tuesday, November 2, 2010

International Homeless Animals' Day: August 21, 2010

International Homeless Animals' Day 2010 was commemorated for the nineteenth consecutive year on August 21st with Candlelight Vigil observances in 38 states and 18 foreign countries.

Each year, on the third Saturday of August, animal protection organizations, dedicated vigil coordinators, and concerned individuals band together from around the world and join ISAR in an educational endeavor known as International Homeless Animals' Day. Since 1992, this Day has allowed humankind to act in solidarity and express that the disgraceful mass-murdering of healthy yet homeless animals, who wind up in shelters through no fault of their own, is unacceptable! ISAR is extremely grateful for the hard work our devoted vigil coordinators put forth every year leading up to our August event. Because of their loyal commitment, ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day observances result in the re-homing of companion animals into loving new families and the performing of countless spay/neuter surgeries. This year, hundreds of ISAR's candlelight vigil planning packets were sent to organizations and individuals interested in coordinating an International Homeless Animals' Day event. ISAR spay/neuter bumper stickers, buttons and handouts were made available to many participating organizations for distribution at their events.

In honor of International Homeless Animals' Day 2010, ISAR was pleased to sponsor our 9th Annual Virtual Vigil. Visitors to our website, http://www.isaronline.org/, were invited to light an online candle and post a message in memory of the victims of pet overpopulation. Participation in our online vigil spanned the globe, including foreign locations such as Sweden, Canada, Serbia and Montenegro, Bermuda, Czech Republic, Australia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Croatia, Netherlands, Japan, New Zealand, Denmark - as well as in the United States.

New this year, ISAR produced a tribute video for vigil coordinators who have held International Homeless Animals' Day observances over the years. Accompanied by Michael Bublé's beautiful rendition of his song Home, images of homeless animals and humans dramatizing the pet overpopulation tragedy fade into one another while the music plays. Multiple animal protection organizations and caring individuals shared our special tribute by hosting our video on their websites, blogs, and online communities. In just a month's time, ISAR's tribute video garnered 1,300 hits. ISAR's video may be viewed on our website, http://www.isaronline.org/.

2010 Vigil Highlights
While ISAR encourages all vigil coordinators to contact us with feedback, due to space restraints we are not able to acknowledge the many events that took place on August 21, 2010. Some representative examples follow.

Glow sticks aligned to spell the word home illuminated the lawn at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California during an International Homeless Animals' Day observance coordinated by Desert Paws. Dr. Lori Kirshner, President of Desert Paws, welcomed approximately 70 people to their event to raise awareness concerning the pet overpopulation epidemic and its simple spay/neuter solution. Mayor of Palm Desert, Cindy Finerty, read a proclamation based on ISAR's declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day. Special guest speaker, ISAR Chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer, encouraged the crowd to continue all efforts to alleviate pet overpopulation and to support animal rights groups who are in positions of influence. According to Dr. Kirshner, "We, along with others from around the world who gather for similar vigils, can make a difference. Together, we can work to help end this senseless killing. We must do everything in our powers to support legislative efforts to make pet sterilization the law in every city and county around the U.S." ISAR could not agree more!

Hundreds of people, including members from ISAR, Rescue Ink, Guardians of Rescue, the founder of The Animal Kindness Awards, and president of DogsInDanger.com attended a concert and documentary film premiere of Take Me Home - The Story of the Georgia Puppy Caravan hosted by The M.O.M.S. Animal Rescue in Philadelphia on August 19, 2010. On August 21, 2009, one year prior to ISAR's 19th commemoration of International Homeless Animals' Day, The M.O.M.S Animal Rescue, along with a troop of volunteers, traveled to Summerville, GA and completely emptied the Chattooga Animal Control of 138 animals and re-homed all of them into new loving families. During the documentary premiere, artist John Donato presented art inspired by the puppy caravan titled "Freedom Train", where Summer, one of the rescued Georgia dogs, signed the painting with a paw print. Musical performances from the Take Me Home soundtrack, including a number sung by the children of the caravan, helped set a very moving and inspirational tone for the evening. Karen Talbot LaSasso, Founder of The M.O.M.S. Rescue, attributes ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day for rekindling her mission and states, "After devoting three full years into St. Joseph Paws for a Cause, The M.O.M.S. Animal Rescue and the Georgia Puppy Caravan, I decided to take a much needed break because I became absolutely emotionally drained. I rested for one day and asked GOD to send me a sign that would push me to move forward and not take a "break". The very next day, I received an email in a crosspost. I receive hundreds of these emails daily, BUT this one changed the course of my future! It was the announcement that ISAR was hosting their annual candlelight vigil for Homeless Animals (Worldwide) on August 21, 2010. The significance of this date hit me like a Mack truck! This was the one year anniversary of the Georgia Puppy Caravan. This was the day we completely emptied out an entire shelter in Summerville, GA. On August 21, 2009 the M.O.M.S. Animal Rescue carried 138 animals to safety for the first time in Georgia state history. This is the day that had completely changed my life forever. The sign that I was given was larger than life and so my day of rest came to an immediate end and at that point I realized that I may get weary and emotionally drained but if I give up, who will speak for them? I was honored to be part of ISAR and even drove to The Queenie Foundation's Candlelight Vigil in Connecticut to be surrounded by many other voices for our nation's voiceless! If we as adults could only learn to take more cues from animals and children, what a world we would live in!!!"

Volunteering: An Inspired Endeavor was the theme for The Queenie Foundation, Inc.'s 15th annual International Homeless Animals' Day observance on August 21, 2010. Media attention from local newspapers and television stations, including an interview on an ABC affiliate in New Haven, helped promote their event which drew a crowd of 100 people. Multiple animal protection organizations were on hand mingling with the crowd while raffles, live music, adoption displays, vendors and vegan fare added to the highlights of the Day. Guest speaker, ISAR Program Coordinator, Colleen Gedrich, read a proclamation based on ISAR's, signed by Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell, declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day. Miss Gedrich also spoke to the crowd about the importance of volunteering and the need for camaraderie between animal rights/welfare groups. During the event, ISAR volunteers distributed copies of ISAR's monograph Harming Companion Animals: Liability and Damages, The Animal's 10 Commandments bookmarks, spay/neuter bumper stickers and buttons, as well as previous ISAR Newsletters to the crowd. Enid Breakstone, Founder and Director of The Queenie Foundation, Inc. is no stranger to holding successful International Homeless Animals' Day observances. For many years, Ms. Breakstone coordinated candlelight vigil events in Texas with attendee numbers reaching 400 participants with more than 30 pro-animal organizations present. Since her move to Connecticut, Ms. Breakstone claims, "New England is quite different. The rescue community in the Hartford area is not nearly as cohesive as in Dallas/Ft. Worth and so it seems more difficult to get organizations and the public to attend. Even though this is a serious event, because I take companion animal overpopulation dead seriously, our event next year is going to be very lively and hopefully fun for people to attend. We can make this event one that people want to go to every year while informing them that spay/neuter stops companion animal overpopulation off its tracks."

Proclamations based on ISAR's declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day were signed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, the Mayors of Franklinton and Bogalusa, along with Washington Parish President, Ned Thomas and presented during an observance coordinated by the Humane Society of Louisiana - Magnolia Chapter. Mr. Thomas not only read the proclamation during this event but also declared to post signs in rural areas of Washington Parish informing the public about animal abandonment laws and penalties. Dogs and their custodians donned black ribbons in memory of all animals who lost their lives to pet overpopulation during their International Homeless Animals' Day Memorial Walk. Young volunteers asked so many questions during the event regarding pet overpopulation and spay/neuter benefits that it inspired the following suggestion from the Humane Society of Louisiana, "talk to school superintendents and principals asking that elementary students become involved in this Day by incorporating courses with projects of drawing and coloring pictures, writing poems or stories about animals finding good homes while high school levels could do research projects on pet overpopulation (consequences and solutions). The hosting vigil coordinator could choose winners from each level and have each student present their project during an International Homeless Animals' Day event. Winning students would be featured in the newspaper." ISAR agrees wholeheartedly that younger generations should be offered ways to get involved in International Homeless Animals' Day and thinks this idea would certainly help garner some media attention!

The NEPA-Animal Adoption Network (NEPA-AAN) teamed up with Eastern PA Animal Alliance (EPAA) for a low-cost spay/neuter mobile clinic in time for this year's International Homeless Animals' Day. ISAR's brightly colored billboard was posted along a busy roadway one month prior to the event to help spread the spay/neuter message and advertise their clinic. Appointments filled fast as more than 35 dogs and cats were spayed/neutered as a result of this one day clinic. Due to its popularity, NEPA-AAN and the EPAA have already scheduled return visits to the Scranton area. According to Nancy Reese, Founder of NEPA-AAN, "Bringing the low-cost spay/neuter mobile to Scranton was a success and a great way to celebrate International Homeless Animals' Day. We hope to plan a big event for this Day in 2011 to get our community more involved and to raise the much needed awareness on how important it is to just simply spay and neuter your pets." Mrs. Reese went on to say, "We live in such a disposable society, it's a shame. People need to pay attention and take responsibility for their actions. Thousands of animals die each day because of the carelessness of others."

Mayor Susan Hardee Steger, Fernandina Beach, FL, presented Beth Hackney of Cats Angels Inc. SPCA with two proclamations declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day, as well as affirming August 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Month. As a result, throughout the month of August, Cats Angels Inc. SPCA found loving new homes for more than 60 cats. Cats Angels was also responsible for the spaying/neutering of 110 cats in August bringing their total number of sterilizations to an impressive 10,000 surgeries performed. Rounding out their month-long events, Cats Angels hosted a 2 mile walk with participants toting signs prominently featuring spay/neuter and adoption messages and concluded with a touching candlelight vigil at the finish line.

ISAR is pleased to report that International Homeless Animals' Day participation has expanded to businesses outside the realm of animal rights/protection organizations. For instance, Vibe Hair Studio, MI, held a hair cut-a-thon on August 21st raising $690.00 with one hundred percent of the proceeds donated to the Michigan Humane Society. Remington Apartment Homes, TX, provided a list of local animal shelters on their website and waived half their pet fee to tenants for any cat or dog adopted during the week leading up to International Homeless Animals' Day. Spanning over 19 U.S. states, Aveda Retail Stores in 40 locations invited local shelters on site, provided spay/neuter/adoption awareness handouts to the public, displayed photos of adoptable animals throughout their stores, and offered spa services in exchange for donations to local shelters and rescue groups. An Aveda representative can be quoted as saying, "This event was so important to me and heartwarming. It made me so happy to see the public's response to be the same. I am proud to work for a company that allows us to be the voice for the animals. I hope we can do this again in the future. It was a great success for our store and most of all, the animals."

International Activities
A sea of candles cast a warm glow during a candlelight vigil with some three hundred adults and children at an International Homeless Animals' Day observance hosted by the SPCA-Penang in Malaysia. Throughout the event, members of the crowd inquired about how to get involved in animal protection, participated with their pets in a parade and pet tricks and skills contest, spent time with adoptable animals and were offered information on spay/neuter. Approximately RM900 (or $300 U.S. dollars) were raised toward the SPCA's neutering program as a result of this observance. When asked about the pet overpopulation problem in Malaysia, Lily Lang of the SPCA summed up her frustrations by stating, "The general public lacks pet overpopulation education in Malaysia while consistency from government officials regarding animal laws is virtually nonexistent. The SPCA-Penang craves standardization and has been attempting to negotiate with city officials since 1993 to improve conditions for animals and create a more cohesive legal system."

Fifty people gathered in the Czech Republic during two International Homeless Animals' Day ceremonies held by First Society for the Cat Rights. ISAR spay/neuter educational materials were made available to the public while photos of adoptable animals and a candlelight memorial were on display in the town of Pribor. Close by, the melody of a lone flute player filled the air while participants at a new vigil location met adoptable cats searching for loving homes. ISAR's Proclamation declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day was signed and presented by a council member from the town of Cernosice. According to the Society's Chairwoman, Alice Oppova, "First Society for the Cat Rights has been trying for a long time to persuade other Czech animal protection organizations to coordinate vigils with us. Nevertheless, we believe that the first official vigil in Cernosice was a success."

Approximately 100 people were encouraged to write a blessing in honor of homeless animals on brightly colored yellow ribbons and tie them to a tree centrally located in the courtyard of the Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) in Tai Po, Hong Kong for International Homeless Animals' Day. Informational posters on pet overpopulation, spay/neuter, and the adoption option adorned the walls leading into the kennels where excited animals spent the day playing with friendly visitors. During the event, a moment of silence was observed for all animals killed as a result of pet overpopulation. Sally Anderson, Founder of the HKDR, along with members of the crowd, signed ISAR's Proclamation declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day.

One thousand people gathered in two locations to participate in the spay/neuter campaign efforts coordinated by Spay/Panama, Angeles De Los Animales, Adopta Patitas, Albergue San Roque, Fundacion San Franciso De Asis, Tinakeros Hogar Temporal and Amigos De Los Animales y La Naturaleza in honor of International Homeless Animals' Day in the Republic of Panama. Over 170 animals were spayed/neutered on August 21, 2010 as a result of their observance. Shelter fundraising activities included animal friendly contests for best rescue story, best adoption story, a photo contest of people helping homeless animals and a dog agility contest. Social networking sites, local newspaper, television and radio stations contributed to their media coverage and spread the spay/neuter message far and wide.

Thirty-two free spay/neuter coupons valuing over $1600 were dispensed to the public at an International Homeless Animals' Day observance in the Bahamas on August 21, 2010. The Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights & Kindness (Baark!) quizzed passers-by on pet overpopulation statistics during their event. Real change occurred when a few people (who admitted to breeding their animals) were so affected by the numbers of animals killed in shelters they graciously accepted Baark!'s coupons for a free spay/neuter to have their animals sterilized. According to Laura Kimble, Chairwoman of Baark!, "We salute those people who, once they understand the direct connection between breeding their dog and animals dying at the pound were willing to step up and take action." Ms. Kimble went on to say, "The homeless animal problem should matter to every Bahamian, if only because suffering diseased animals roaming everywhere severely impacts the image of our country. Most tourists have never seen such suffering animals, especially in these large numbers, and it really makes them think less of our beautiful country...the suffering of animals [throughout the Bahamas] is completely avoidable if we all just do our part." ISAR would like to extend that great advice to include every country around the globe!

Special Thanks
ISAR is delighted to report that many elected officials have signed ISAR's Proclamations recognizing August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day. ISAR extends a heartfelt thank you to all government leaders who recognized this Day including Mayors Dewey Bartlett, Tulsa and Vic Vreeland, Jenks, OK, Michael Newhard, Village of Warwick, NY, as well as Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry. Governor of Pennsylvania, Edward G. Rendell, in addition to declaring August 21, 2010 as International Homeless Animals' Day, expressed the following sentiments in a letter to ISAR, "Each year, Pennsylvania's animal shelters find adoptive homes for hundreds of thousands of homeless pets. Shelters around the world recognize this day to remember all the animals that entered the shelters homeless, waiting for a familiar face. ISAR gives hope for the many animals that are waiting for their happy ending story. Thank you for helping to find animals the forever homes they deserve."

ISAR would also like to thank everyone who employed various media outlets promoting our 19th annual International Homeless Animals' Day observances. Blogs, newspapers, radio and television stations, websites, and online communities, greatly contributed to ISAR's educational crusade against pet overpopulation and assisted ISAR in publicizing the overwhelming scores of companion animal deaths that take place each year because there are not enough good homes for them. Among the many sources, PetSmart Charities supported ISAR's spay/neuter awareness efforts with an International Homeless Animals' Day inspired blog. BBC News, Washington, launched a media blitz focusing on the importance of International Homeless Animals' Day. Iams-sponsored blogs, The Dog Daily and The Daily Cat, circulated its International Homeless Animals' Day interview featuring ISAR Program Coordinator Colleen Gedrich on news sites such as Fox, NBC, and CBS affiliates while The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan, produced an article proclaiming, "Every year more than 4.5 million dogs and cats die in local animal shelters due to a lack of space. For the past 19 years, organizations such as ISAR have promoted new ideas and efforts to maintain the pet population with spay/neuter programs. One of the kindest acts people can perform to save the lives of animals is to spay or neuter their pet, which prevents homeless animals from ever being born in the first place."

Our Deepest Gratitude to Coordinators
Listed below are some of the countless organizations ISAR would like to acknowledge for their efforts.

ISAR would like to specially thank, Friends of Pets, Anchorage Animal Care and Control, The Center for Animal Rescue and Adoption, HALO Animal Rescue, Bryant Animal Shelter, From the Heart Animal Behavior Counseling & Training and Paws at Play Doggie Daycare, Santa Cruz SPCA, Surf City Animal Response Team (SCART), Sacramento County Animal Shelter, Molly's Mutts and Meows, Lange Foundation of Los Angeles, Berkeley Humane Society, Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, San Francisco SPCA, Friends of the Formerly Friendless, Tony L Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation, All Breed Rescue & Training, Our Companions Domestic Animal Sanctuary, Seashore Striders Event Productions, Inc., Central Brevard Humane Society, Aloha Pet & Bird Hospital, the North & South Animal Care Centers and S.P.C.A. of North Brevard, Florida Boxer Rescue, Tri-County Humane Society, Susan Buser, SPCA of Central Florida, Orange County Animal Services, A Second Chance Puppies and Kittens Rescue, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, Humane Society of Tampa Bay, Animal Rescue Force of South Florida, Inc., The Humane Society Naples, The Cat Network, Atlanta Humane Society, SweetWater Brewery, Park Tavern, Maui Humane Society, Almost Home Foundation, CIAWC Agencies, Livingston County Humane Society, New Leash On Life Animal Rescue, The Temple Bar, Chicago English Bulldog Rescue, Mercy Rescue and Adoption of Jennings County, Elkhart Humane Society, Humane Society of Indianapolis, Siouxland Humane Society, Cedar Bend Humane Society, City of Overland Park, The Lexington Humane Society, College Park Animal Welfare Society, Chesapeake Cats and Dogs, Inc., Maryland SPCA, Save A Dog, Humane Society of Kent County, Friends for the Dearborn Animal Shelter, Happy Tails Rescue, Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, Dogwood Animal Shelter, Osage Beach Culvers, Pulaski County Humane Society, Callaway County Humane Society, Marketplace Media, Angels of Animals, Inc., Coordinators of "Your Dog is Worth It Too", Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, Humane Society of Bergen County/Lost Pet, Inc., Camden County Animal Shelter, Craft Company No. 6, Warwick Valley Humane Society, Humane Society of Rome, New York Feral Cat Initiative - A Program of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, No Kill New York, New Rochelle Humane Society, Pet Rescue, C.A.R.E. For Animals, Unleashed, Carl & Linda Grubb Family YMCA, SNIP Regional Spay/Neuter Clinic, Independent Animal Rescue, SPCA of Raleigh, Greyhound Adoption of Ohio, United Coalition for Animals, Cincinnati Pet Food Pantry, Community Animal Task Force, Knox County Humane Society, Cuyahoga County Kennels, Queen City Greyhound Rescue, Friends of The Shelter, Columbus Humane Society, Oklahoma Alliance for Animals, 92.9 BOB FM, Partnering for Pets, Inc., Miss Molly's Pet Services, No-Kill Lehigh Valley, Blue Chip Farm Animal Refuge, Dr. Jennifer L. Fry, VMD, Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, Inc., Animal Friends, Defenders of Animals, Providence Animal Rescue League, Journey's End No-Kill Animal Society, Nashville Humane Association, Tunica Humane Society, Irving Animal Services, Kaufman County Animal Awareness Project, Kittico, DFW Humane Society, The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS), Humane Society of Williamson County, A Different Breed Animal Rescue, Green Mountain Animal Defenders, NOVADog Magazine, Greenbrier Humane Society, Raleigh County Animal Rescue, Countryside Humane Society, Leadership Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin Pets, Humane Animal Welfare Society (HAWS), Waupun Area Animal Shelter, Inc., Angels Wish.

ISAR also truly appreciates the international efforts from the Public Association for Animal Protection "EGIDA", Belarus, Animal Rescue Sofia, Bulgaria, Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, Bow Valley SPCA, City of London, Pet Valu, Petfinder.com, Bosco & Roxy's, Country Paws, A Village Tail, Canine Life, Cohen Highley Lawyers, Sifton Properties, 103.1 Fresh FM, Canada, AnimaNaturalis, Chile, Protestors in Medellin, Colombia, Association de Defense de la Nature et Des Animaux OÏKOS KAÏ BIOS, France, Georgian Society for the Protection and Safety of Animals, Georgia, IDA Deonar, India, Animal Welfare Department at Ghammieri, Marsa, Malta, Happy TailsAcapulco, Mexico, SOS Chats, Switzerland, Kiev MTZT SOS Shelter, Ukraine, Humane Society of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

ISAR Spay/Neuter Billboards Shed Light on a Global Tragedy
Displaying brightly colored images of a yellow dog and tiger-striped cat, ISAR unveiled its new spay/neuter billboard design in the spring of 2010 in time for our 19th Annual International Homeless Animals' Day and Candlelight Vigil observances. ISAR's striking new artwork prominently featured educational slogans such as "Shed Light on a Global Tragedy - Pet Overpopulation" and "Spay/Neuter. It Stops Killing." Animal protection organizations and concerned individuals took advantage of ISAR's latest billboard design this summer to promote their International Homeless Animals' Day observances. ISAR's Spay/Neuter Billboards were erected in two locations in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia.

ISAR is pleased that our friends at Holly Help Spay/Neuter Fund in Bristol, VA, not only purchased an ISAR billboard to shed light on pet overpopulation and promote spay/neuter, but took creative license and featured ISAR's billboard design into a store-front memorial display for the month of August in honor of International Homeless Animals' Day. Each side of the display incorporated a startling mosaic depicting glowing candles made up of thousands of images of euthanized cats and dogs, victims of pet overpopulation, with ISAR's spay/neuter billboard design situated in the center of the canvas. Cat and dog overpopulation statistics and solutions to this crisis were also integrated into the design.

Organize a Vigil for 2011
Mark your calendars! August 20, 2011 is the date for anyone wishing to join ISAR in commemorating our 20th anniversary of International Homeless Animals' Day and Candlelight Vigils. We look forward to welcoming back all previous vigil coordinators along with a host of new ones, to join ISAR in solidarity and shed light on pet overpopulation.

ISAR will once again offer our International Homeless Animals' Day vigil planning packets, at no cost, to help guide participants in selecting a vigil site and reaching target audiences, while providing sample press releases, suggestions for speakers, posters, proclamations, poems, songs, coloring sheets and more!

Interested parties may request a free vigil packet from ISAR by mail, phone, fax or email. Packets are scheduled to be mailed by the first week in June, 2011.

We are very proud and pleased with the worldwide success and direct spay/neuter influence International Homeless Animals' Day 2010 has had for communities around the globe. We could not have achieved our goal without you, our dedicated friends and supporters.

With your continued friendship and support, ISAR will continue fighting the battle against pet overpopulation and we'll work tirelessly for the day when all companion animals are embraced in loving arms and caring homes.