4animals: Stories to Inspire – Issue 12
IN ISSUE #12
|In celebration of Be the Change for Animals’ second birthday, Director Kim Clune marks the 12th issue of the 4animals Newsletter by honoring the people who make this community driven website possible.||Peggy Frezon revels in the proud graduation moment for parents, friends and relatives, and students alike. And thanks to service dogs, that moment is available to more graduates, regardless of ability or circumstances.||Listen to Save Animals Save Yourself as Mary Haight of Animal Cafe talks with Jane Velez Mitchell about how culture is reflected in the state of the environment, from dogs and cats to factory farms, fur, animal testing, and more.|
Welcome to the twelfth issue of 4animals, the one year marker of our monthly newsletter and our community’s second birthday. Marvel at the majesty of the animal kingdom and feel inspired before another month of animal advocacy. Enjoy!
Happy Birthday, Be the Change for Animals!
by Kim Clune
THE DAY IT ALL BEGAN
A strong, warm, spring breeze whizzed an abundance of Elm seeds through tree-lined streets the day I first met Amy Burkert. These were nothing like fluffy cottonwood seeds wafting gently on a breeze. Heavy swirling masses hit the sun dappled sidewalks with purpose, literally pounding the pavement. Little did we know then that this was a sign of what’s to come. (Amy is a firm believer in signs, or at least that all things happen for a reason.)
It was May 15, 2010 and, through the magic of social media, we strangers (Amy’s husband included) came together for a dog-friendly event in Saratoga Springs, NY. A noon-time hello turned into an all day affair and, with life giving seeds raining down upon us, our friendship bloomed immediately. I soon trusted that Amy would be the perfect partner to launch an idea.
A LABOR OF LOVE
Hitting the pavement on our new and exciting journey, Amy and I sketched the seedlings of Be the Change for Animals and cultivated it into being over the course of two weeks. We went public on May 24th, 2010 using the very means that connected us – social media. Drawing a small audience, we launch our new website and, soon after, enlisted the help of other online animal advocates. The end result is an advocacy site run by and for the community. We have since grown 14,650 members strong by empowering all people to make a difference for animals in need.
As we move into our third year, I am excited to bring two new writers into the fold. Please help me welcome AJ Postiglione of WantMorePuppies.com and Kristine Tonks of Rescued Insanity.com! We’ve also been nominated for Best Cause Blog in the Nose-to-Nose Awards and we are in very good company. It was a conscious decision not to nominate ourselves, ensuring that consideration was truly the wishes of the community. We thank you for the honor and look forward to the winning announcement on June 23rd, no matter who wins!
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION
In celebration of Be the Change for Animals’ second birthday, I’d first like to thank you, our community members, for your ongoing support and participation. Your collective actions have the most significant impact and, without you, our efforts would be rendered useless.
I must also whole-heartedly thank the people who bring this operation to you. They have given so much of their time and energy to volunteering, and many are celebrating more than a year of service. My appreciation knows no bounds and our collective accomplishments are many.
TO MY TRUSTED TEAM…
Peggy Frezon – Staff Writer
Peggy, thank you for being our most active, efficient and punctual cause writer, for helping to develop the 4animals newsletter, and for faithfully writing the animals 4people column. You always make time for BTC, even while writing your own two books, Dieting with my Dog and Heart to Heart, Hand in Paw, and contributing to Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts and so many other publications. Your energy and enthusiasm so often fuel my own, particularly on days when BTC becomes a challenge. Better yet, you ensure that challenges don’t arise.
Kim Thomas – Facebook Community Liaison
Kim, as Be the Change for Animal’s Facebook Manager, you understand the interests of our community inside and out, more so than any member of our team. I have come to rely heavily on your astute intuition and constant community engagement. Thank you for your diligence in posting important, engaging and heart warming posts every single day, and for writing them too. You are the Facebook face of Be the Change for Animals, a position that interacts with our community most, and I couldn’t do this without you.
Vicki Cook – Staff Writer and Twitter Community Liaison
Vicki, you always find ways for BTC to have a strong impact, the most recent and important being your post about flood relief for Amazon CARES. You and BTC go together like chocolate and peanut butter and I can’t imagine one without the other. Your timely and well written submissions while scheduling our Twitter posts have been an enormous help. You are so suited to this type of writing and you make it look so easy. Thank you, too, for initiating our Paper.li account, enabling us to Tweet for causes we love so dearly. I am so happy to have you here.
Mary Haight – Staff Writer
Mary, your writing and Animal Cafe podcast features are so appreciated, but your campaign against puppy mills was, by far, the most ambitious endeavor taken on by a member of our team. With strong press support from the BTC and Change.org communities, your petition, Petland USA: Stop Selling Pets – Fire Puppy Mills – Petland Canada Has, has nearly reached 150,000 signatures and Petland mill dog sales have significantly slowed. Thank you for demonstrating the impact and empowerment that this community is all about.
Mel Freer – Staff Writer
Mel, thank you for making your writing debut during our October-long campaign against puppy mills. Your first post, Close Internet Loopholes for Puppy Mill Sales, took a great deal of heat from a paid industry smear campaign and your approach was always to speak respectfully while educating with facts. Your rocky initiation into an otherwise friendly community was trial by fire and, while I am sorry it came to that, your unwavering diplomacy in the most difficult of situations is what makes your involvement here so valued.
Maggie Marton – Staff Writer
Maggie Marton, your grassroots cause to end Breed Specific Legislation in Denver, CO was the first cause ever hosted on BtC4animals.com, making you a member of the BtC team since the start. As proof positive that everyday people can raise awareness, it was an honor when you stepped up to write for us on a regular basis. While you have faced tremendous challenges in past months, nothing pleases me more to know that you’re stepping back through the door that has always remained open to you. Our third year will be the best yet with you back on the team.
Amy Burkert – Co- financier, Founding Member
Amy, having been here from the very start, you not only helped to bring this idea to fruition, but you became one of my very dear friends. Thank you for your initial year of brainstorming, writing, organizing and participating. While the success of your business, GoPetFriendly.com, has since required your full attention, you continue to co-fund and support BTC in beautiful ways. I am so grateful for you.
FORMER MEMBERS WHO HELPED US TO RISE
Shauna Stewart – Cause Scout
Shauna, thank you for creating the R.O.A.R. Squad, an early cause profiled on BtC4animals. Your celebration of rescue owners was a strong component in bringing us all together. I so appreciate your efforts scouting mission appropriate causes for BTC as we grew. It’s not always an easy task with such rigid guidelines. While we’ll certainly miss you, the entire team congratulates you on the arrival of your sweet human bambino and we wish your growing family, husband and dogs included, all the best!
A MESSAGE FOR YOU FROM…
Kim Clune - Director, Founding Member
Founding and directing Be the Change for Animals has been a rewarding challenge, but it is a project that I cannot do alone. Nor can it be all that I do. In April, with 4 friends and I founding Dog House Adoptions to serve Rensselaer County, NY, I have found balance in my quest for global change with a desire to act locally. This is why teams in both camps are so important to me. While Team BTC may not be fully aware, they allow me to make a difference on the ground, not just online. The same holds true in reverse of Team DHA.
If you ever thought of joining a cause, I can promise it’s the most rewarding endeavor. Just give a little. The collective value of what you give when matched with what others give will accomplish so much. I truly hope that BTC4animals.com allows you to relate that to your own life and that you’re inspired to take action in your own way. Let’s be that change together.
Pup and Circumstance
By Peggy Frezon
Something stirs inside of me when the majestic music begins to play and a line of beaming cap-and-gown-clad graduates march down the aisle. It signifies accomplishment, transition, endings and beginnings. It’s a proud moment for parents, friends and relatives, and students alike. And thanks to service dogs, that moment is available to more graduates, regardless of ability or circumstances.
Last year Jade Perry, who has a neurological disease, received her diploma from Coastal Carolina University. Perry most often uses a wheelchair, pulled by her beautiful white and black Harlequin Great Dane, Bristol. She was able to accept her diploma with the help of her service dog. On this, one of her proudest days, Perry was thrilled to be able to walk across the stage while holding onto Bristol for support.
Sindy Puckett also walked across the stage this year with the help of her yellow lab leader dog, Elanor. She received her master’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University. Sindy is visually impaired and says Elanor is, “like an extension of my left hand.”
Wounded veteran Mike Jernigan was able to complete with studies at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg through a close partnership with his guide dog. Brittani. “She’s been to every class with me,” he says. Brittani shared the honors, too, as the guide dog attended the graduation ceremony wearing her own doggie graduation gown.
Bonnie Pierce suffers from epilepsy after having been hit by a car. Her service dog, a boxer-Labrador mix named Choco Latte, helps her navigate daily life and college campus. Choco can predict her seizures, and help her through them. So it was no wonder that Choco also helped her through college and graduation.
Check out this inspiring video, showing the invaluable help of a service dog to a college student.
Congratulations Graduates everywhere from Be the Change!