Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day Sheds Light On A Global Tragedy: Pet Overpopulation

President's Message
Dear Friends,

ISAR celebrated the 20th anniversary of International Homeless Animals' Day® on Saturday, August 20, 2011 with hundreds of observances in more than 30 states and 11 foreign countries including Canada.

International Homeless Animals' Day-the ISAR-created and sponsored annual event-is always observed on the third Saturday in August. ISAR launched this day of memory in 1992 to shed light on the tragedy of pet overpopulation and the urgent need for affordable spay/neuter programs to help save the lives of animals.

On International Homeless Animals' Day, ISAR along with animal protection organizations, humane societies, animal rescues, veterinary professionals, caring individuals, and animal-friendly businesses from throughout the United States, Canada and abroad join together to send the spay/neuter message to a global audience in an effort to halt the euthanasia and suffering of unwanted companion animals.

ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day observances have been successful thanks to the worldwide participation of other organizations that provide a wide variety of activities to educate communities, legislators and the media of the urgent need for companion animal sterilization.

As a direct result of International Homeless Animals' Day 2011:

● Thousands of dogs and cats were spayed and neutered, thus preventing the birth of hundreds of thousands of unwanted companion animals.

● Thousands of dollars were raised to fund low-cost spay/neuter programs, consequently reducing the number of animals entering shelters.

● Countless shelter animals once homeless, have found permanent loving homes, thus reducing shelter euthanasia rates.

● ISAR's proclamations urging citizens to spay and neuter their pets were adopted and signed by U.S. Governors and Mayors, thereby acknowledging the companion animal overpopulation crisis and the pressing need for low-cost spay/neuter programs.

● Media coverage from newspapers, radio and television stations, along with numerous online resources enlightened the public to the simple solution to the pet overpopulation crisis: spay/neuter.

● ISAR's billboards effectively communicated the spay/neuter message to a large number of motorists in several states.

● ISAR's educational brochures, addressing the problems and solutions related to pet overpopulation were distributed worldwide.

As our supporters know, International Homeless Animals' Day is just one of the many valuable programs conceived and executed annually by ISAR.

Since ISAR's founding in 1959 our organization has not wavered in our commitment, dedicating all our efforts and resources to improving the lives of all animals through legal, legislative and educational programs.

ISAR is most grateful to you, our supporters. You are the most powerful allies the animals have. Without your financial support, we would not have the resources to wage our battles on behalf of animals.

Susan Dapsis

ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day Sheds Light On A Global Tragedy: Pet Overpopulation

International Homeless Animals' Day 2011 was commemorated for the twentieth consecutive year on August 20th with Candlelight Vigil observances in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada and 11 foreign countries including the Bahamas, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Kuwait, Panama, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Switzerland.

ISAR conceived and commemorated International Homeless Animals' Day beginning in 1992. Now, twenty years later, observances have consistently grown and bring people all over the world together to shed light on pet overpopulation and the spay/neuter solution. International Homeless Animals' Day events have been celebrated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, over 50 countries and 6 continents, saving millions of animals' lives.

International Homeless Animals' Day is an opportunity to pay homage to creatures whose lives we have responsible dominion over. We have loved them, fought for them, advocated for them and ultimately been forced to make life and death decisions regarding their future. International Homeless Animals' Day is the opportunity to reach thousands-even millions-of people with the crucial message that pet overpopulation can be ameliorated through spaying and neutering.

In honor of ISAR's 20th International Homeless Animals' Day, ISAR once again offered those who could not physically attend a Candlelight Vigil observance an invitation to participate online during ISAR's 10th annual International Homeless Animals' Day virtual vigil. Interested individuals from around the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Estonia, Turkey, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Argentina lit candles online in memory or in honor of a loved animal, thus expressing the importance of spaying/neutering and adopting from animal shelters.

Taking a cue from the support received by ISAR's Youtube video showcasing International Homeless Animals' Day observances during 2009, ISAR again produced a tribute video spotlighting International Homeless Animals' Day observances from 2010. Multiple animal protection organizations and caring individuals have already shared our special tribute by hosting our video on their websites, blogs, and online communities. ISAR's video may be viewed on our website,

2011 Vigil Highlights

On August 20, 2011, ISAR commemorated its 20th anniversary of International Homeless Animals' Day alongside more than 250 concerned individuals and over 20 animal rescue groups and vendors at Nay Aug Park in Scranton, PA. ISAR Program Coordinator Colleen Gedrich read ISAR's Proclamation signed by Scranton Mayor Christopher A. Doherty declaring August 20, 2011 as International Homeless Animals' Day.

Live music entertained the crowd during the pet walk, pet food and supply drive, and meet and greet portions of this event while many pet custodians lined up with their faithful companion animals for the rabies vaccination and microchip clinics conducted by Bunker Hill Veterinary Hospital.

During this milestone observance, ISAR's President, Susan Dapsis, joined forces with Senator Roy C. Afflerbach (Ret.), Founder of Humane USA PA PAC, Tamira Ci Thayne, Founder of Dogs Deserve Better, members of Rescue Ink including founding member Joe Panz, and Al "Alley Cat" Chernoff, and Nancy Reese, Founder of NEPA Animal Adoption Network to enlighten the crowd about the need for spay/neuter while promoting shelter adoption practices, proper companion animal care, and encouraging the public to get involved in any way they can to help animals.

ISAR President, Susan Dapsis recited grim facts on pet overpopulation that commanded the audience's attention and encouraged the crowd to become a part of the spay/neuter solution. With great concern, Ms. Dapsis said, "The surplus of companion animals has resulted in millions of dogs, cats, kittens and puppies being euthanized annually in shelters...the leading cause of death for dogs and cats is not illness or accidents, but euthanasia." Ms. Dapsis went on to say, "Sadly, society is unaware that pet overpopulation and the resultant killing exist on such an almost incomprehensible scale. It is because of this, that International Homeless Animals' Day was conceived twenty years ago by ISAR." Ms. Dapsis continued by commending those who work tirelessly in animal shelters and rescues, as well as individuals whose dedication and hard work play a crucial role in increasing public awareness of pet overpopulation and the spay/neuter solution. In conclusion, Ms. Dapsis enlightened the crowd with the following heartfelt words, "There is never a better time than the present to create positive change for unwanted animals. Please have your pets spayed or neutered and when you are ready to bring a pet into your home, remember to adopt your companion animal, they offer a lifetime of love, loyalty and devotion to anyone willing to give them the opportunity to live."

Throughout the evening, ISAR's special guests addressed the crowd on various animal protection topics. Nancy Reese, Founder of NEPA Animal Adoption Network, stressed that animal shelter systems are full and abused by many of the public. Ms. Reese told the crowd that low-cost spay/neuter options do exist and encouraged people to take advantage of those resources. Ms. Reese went on to say, "In 2010, our local animal shelter took in nearly 3,800 cats - 3,100 of them were euthanized. As a society, we need to open our eyes to the real issue out there and get involved. Spaying and neutering is the only sure way to keep down the populations.

Five members from Rescue Ink (nationally known for their television show on the National Geographic Channel) came out in full force with founding member Joe Panz taking the microphone first. With great passion in his voice, Mr. Panz explained to the crowd, "We deal with a lot of different cases of abuse and we deal with a lot of hoarding cases. We handle cases involving dog fighting and cases about animals being left outside. We go wherever we have to go to seek out those individuals who choose to abuse animals in addition to doing what we can to keep animals in the home. When there's a line drawn in the sand and somebody crosses that line, there needs to be someone willing to push back, and that's what we're here for."

Tamira Ci Thayne, Founder of Dogs Deserve Better, then took the stage asking the crowd to show their disapproval for dog tethering. After resounding hoots and hollers, Ms. Thayne went on to say she formed Dogs Deserve Better to stop this horrible practice of dog tethering and likened chained dogs to being just as homeless as those found on the streets or in shelters. Ms. Thayne woefully explained to the crowd, "Left alone in the backyard 24/7, lucky to have food and water, without humane companionship and often times without adequate shelter from the elements, these dogs suffer and they suffer greatly." Ms. Thayne then encouraged the crowd to support anti-chaining legislation to help save these dogs, whose lives are miserable on the end of a chain. Ms. Thayne concluded by pleading with the crowd to, "Please, please, please write to your senators and write to your representatives and encourage them to support anti-chaining legislation!" ISAR's website,, offers our supporters information and links on how to ascertain the names and contact information for federal and state legislators.

Rounding out the speaker portion of our evening, ISAR was pleased to have Senator Roy C. Afflerbach (Ret.), Founder of Humane USA PA PAC, address the crowd. Senator Afflerbach shared many words of wisdom with participants, while explaining several ways the public can help animals by lending their voice. Sen. Afflerbach told the crowd, "If you have access to the internet you can do email, texting, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, social networking, can direct mail many people virtually free. Those of us who support the compassionate treatment of animals can in fact get our message out much more efficiently to many more people, much more quickly. We can take those cases of abject animal abuse and upload those photographs, send them around the world, send them to the legislative offices directly time after time after time. In the past, 14 years ago, we couldn't do that."

In addition to encouraging participation by every member of the crowd in the compassionate treatment of animals movement from every member of the crowd, Senator Afflerbach declared, "One thing we have to absolutely improve on is diversity in this movement." Senator Afflerbach went on to enlighten the crowd by noting that ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day observance was one of the few he has been to where there were as many men as their were women present. Senator Afflerbach could not stress enough when he said, "We need to diversify! This movement for the compassionate treatment of animals does not reflect the fabric of America, nor the fabric of Pennsylvania. The animal movement, predominantly in this country, is made up of Caucasian women. Diversity comes in different forms. We must bring people in who have the right idea and who have the proper beliefs that we share and ask them to help in any way they can. That's diversity."

ISAR's educational evening concluded with a moving Blessing for the Animals ceremony conducted by Reverend Peter D. D'Angio, who blessed each animal in attendance, and vigil using glow sticks to memorialize the animals that were euthanized simply because there were not enough homes for all of them.

The Governor Sprague Mansion in Cranston, Rhode Island was the setting for Defenders of Animals 17th annual International Homeless Animals' Day Candlelight Vigil on August 20, 2011. With over 70 people in attendance, live music and special guests, including Jen Palazzo and Big Mike of Rescue Ink, rounded out the evening's highlights before the candle lighting ceremony began. Defenders of Animals' Director, Dennis Tabella, presented Rescue Ink with an award for their outstanding achievements in helping animals around the globe. With great pride upon receipt of this award, Ms. Palazzo explained to ISAR about their experience during this International Homeless Animals' Day Candlelight Vigil, "We loved the event in Rhode Island. It was a very intimate and poignant setting. Everyone showed true passion for a cause that we are all fighting together. We were honored to be awarded a plaque that evening when in reality the greatest reward is the hard work all of us in rescue do every day to make a difference in an animal's life."

The Hubbard Green, Connecticut, was once again the setting for The Queenie Foundation, Inc.'s 16th annual International Homeless Animals' Day Candlelight Vigil. Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed ISAR's Proclamation declaring August 20, 2011 as International Homeless Animals' Day in the state of Connecticut. This year, in an attempt to boost attendance, Enid Breakstone, Founder of the Queenie Foundation, Inc. added a new lineup of activities to their Day including a pooch parade and costume contest. Regarding her International Homeless Animals' Day observance, Ms. Breakstone added, "I think the people who come to our event are already pretty much in the know; it's reaching the other segment of the population that's so important and those people rarely come to this type of event." Ms. Breakstone encourages vigil coordinators to make their events fun. She goes on to say, "Even though International Homeless Animals' Day is an event that calls attention to a serious subject, people want to have fun and maybe pick up information in the process." Ms. Breakstone also encourages animal protection organizations to, "Team up! There's power in numbers and International Homeless Animals' Day is no exception. Spay/neuter and rescue/adoption is a team sport, if you will, and rescue organizations would do well to create coalitions or form teams. In terms of International Homeless Animals' Day, if two or three groups can coordinate an event, I think that attendance and therefore information going out to the public would increase. It is up to us to show the public that companion animal overpopulation is serious and it's not going away unless we increase spay and neuter surgeries and focus on the sources of 'surplus' animals such as puppy and kitten mills, which are a major culprit." ISAR could not agree more!

The Warwick Valley Humane Society hosted its 2nd annual International Homeless Animals' Day Candlelight Vigil at the Railroad Green in the Village of Warwick, NY with more than 40 people on August 20, 2011. During their candlelight vigil observance, Mayor Michael Newhard read ISAR's Proclamation declaring August 20, 2011 as International Homeless Animals' Day. The Town of Warwick had also issued a proclamation according to Supervisor Michael Sweeton. Each official then commended all shelter personnel for their service to the town and for their dedication toward helping animals find their forever homes. Suzyn Barron, President of the Warwick Valley Humane Society, explained to the crowd how pet overpopulation troubles are affecting them. Ms. Barron can be quoted as saying, "The shelter is currently housing 30 dogs in a shelter built for no more than 19. We have 182 cats and kittens when 40 would be the appropriate number in our current building. And the pet surrender waiting lists are endless." Ms. Barron went on to thank participants for caring and doing all they can to lessen the plight of homeless animals, declaring her hope to see everyone back again next year, same time, same place. In conclusion, Ms. Barron expressed a very important message to the audience when she said, "Please spread the word - spay and neuter!"

International Activities
For the second year in a row, Spay/Panama of the Republic of Panama joined the United States, Canada and other foreign locations in commemorating International Homeless Animals' Day on August 20, 2011. On this Day, with a team of more than 20 people, including licensed veterinarians, veterinary technicians, students and volunteers, 25 dogs and 44 cats were spayed, neutered and vaccinated thus resulting in less unwanted animals contributing to the global dog and cat overpopulation problem. When ISAR asked Patricia Chan, Founder of Spay/Panama to tell us why ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day was so important to her, Ms. Chan began by reflecting on her childhood memories of her white, female cat named Snowflake recognizing her memories were not always happy ones. At the time, Ms. Chan had no idea about the consequences of having an unspayed feline. Years later, after having cats of her own and retiring from a successful financial career, Ms. Chan, who always dreamt of being a veterinarian pushed her efforts toward "...creating a spay/neuter program designed to benefit low-income families who could not afford to have their pets spayed/neutered and to educate people on the importance of sterilizing their pets." Ms. Chan explained, "In a country where wages are low and stray animals are an acceptable sight, my energy was focused on preventing unwanted litters and animal suffering in the streets of Panama. If I had known about spaying and neutering years back, perhaps Snowflake and her kittens would have led a better life. This is the reason why taking part in the International Homeless Animals' Day means so much to me and to the program."

More than 620 virtual candles flickered over the World Wide Web originating in Estonia thanks to the Estonian Society for the Protection of Animals' inaugural online vigil in honor of International Homeless Animals' Day. Participants were encouraged to light a candle online and include their sentiments in memory of a furry companion. Those who contributed in this memorial service included the names of their furry loved ones, poems about beloved companion animals and hopes for homeless dogs and cats to find families who will love them and give them a forever home.

Wetnose Animal Rescue Centre of South Africa commemorated International Homeless Animals' Day once again this year with more than 2,000 people in attendance. With hopes of finding shelter animals new homes, participants were encouraged to celebrate the animals at the Centre by "adopting" a dog for the day and spend the entire time socializing and playing with them on the grounds. The Day's events included an awards ceremony, dog walk, flea market, auction, showing of a rugby game on an oversized screen, and their very own Mr./Mrs. Wetnose competition. When asked for suggestions in holding a successful International Homeless Animals' Day observance, the general manager of Wet Nose Animal Rescue Centre, Debbie Herselman, had this to say, "Have events that attract not only animal lovers. Otherwise we are just preaching to the already converted."

Over 100 vendors and 50 non-profit organizations tended to the more than 20,000 animal lovers and 5,000 dogs during Pawlooza at the Plunkett Estate in London, Ontario, Canada on International Homeless Animals' Day. Pet contests, agility demonstrations, dock diving, a pet-psychic, walking trails, pet first-aid demonstrations and swimming were just a few of the activities that kept people and their pets busy as they spent the day together. Because of ISAR's International Homeless Animals' Day, Pawlooza has partnered with many animal rescue groups from across Canada to network with others to find permanent, loving homes for unwanted animals, fundraise and to enlighten the public of Canada's pet overpopulation problem and the need for spay/neuter.

Special Thanks
ISAR sincerely thanks all humane-minded elected officials who have taken the opportunity to encourage their citizens to act responsibly when it comes to companion animals and have their pets spay/neutered. In 2011, ISAR gratefully acknowledges support from West Virginia Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Mayor Christopher A. Doherty, Scranton, PA, Mayor Jon Lopez, Oak Hill, West Virginia, and Mayor Susan Steger, Fernandina Beach, FL who not only declared August 20, 2011 as International Homeless Animals' Day but also August 2011 as International Homeless Animals' Month. Those elected officials who have not yet acknowledged the problem of pet overpopulation and the importance of spay/neuter, we encourage you to take a stand alongside ISAR and sign our proclamation!

ISAR would also like to sincerely thank all media and individuals who helped ISAR promote its 20th annual International Homeless Animals' Day observances and the importance of spay/neuter through the many advertising outlets including radio and television interviews, newspaper articles, blogs, social networking, YouTube, websites, billboards and much more!

ISAR is extremely grateful to all vigil coordinators who generously donate their time, efforts and resources each year bringing awareness of the horrific results of dog and cat overpopulation to the forefront by promoting its important and simple solution: spay/neuter. ISAR strives to one day eliminate the pet overpopulation epidemic but we cannot succeed without the great efforts of our vigil coordinators. Thank you!

Please Join ISAR In Making International Homeless Animals' Day® 2012 A Huge Success!
Be a part of something special and join ISAR for International Homeless Animals' Day 2012, which will be commemorated on Saturday, August 18th. Unite with animal advocates from around the globe to shed light on the tragedy of pet overpopulation and the spay/neuter solution.

International Homeless Animals' Day is a great opportunity for your organization, animal shelter, animal rescue, veterinary clinic or pet friendly business to get the worthy recognition you deserve for your dedicated efforts to alleviate pet overpopulation.

Your participation in International Homeless Animals' Day 2012 will underscore the tremendous impact that your organization's solution-focused efforts have on saving the lives of homeless animals.

International Homeless Animals' Day observances provide an important venue to:
˖ Enlighten your community about the services you offer to the public.
˖ Raise the much needed funds to support your spay/neuter programs.
˖ Increase adoptions by showcasing your adoptable pets.
˖ Educate your community of the importance of spaying/neutering to alleviate pet overpopulation.

Don't miss this wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of dog and cat overpopulation and the spay/neuter solution to audiences around the world.

ISAR offers free International Homeless Animals' Day packets to all who are interested in coordinating an event, whether it is a small modest event or a large public gathering.

ISAR's informational materials will assist you in organizing an effective observance with suggestions for site selection, reaching target audiences, speakers, sample press releases, ISAR's proclamations, and much more.

It is nearly impossible to gauge the consequences of spreading ideas and offering quality education on any subject. Thus, ISAR can't know with any certainty the impact of its twenty years of observances and vigils, activities involving literally tens of thousands of participants, spectators and the casually-interested. But we do know this: those tens of thousands of people have been exposed to our spay/neuter message, and necessarily many, or at least some, of them have had to be affected by its compelling cry for reduction of companion animal overpopulation-and the cruelty, abuse and inhumaneness that it causes. If you share our certainty that ideas have consequences and that the ideas that ISAR is promulgating are important, please support our efforts with as much as you can afford. The crime of companion animal overpopulation is unacceptable. It must be fought. With your help ISAR will continue to do just that.

Contact ISAR by mail, phone, fax or email to receive your International Homeless Animals' Day packet.