I was so pleased last week to participate in The HSUS’s Animal Care Expo, where more than 1,800 people from 40 different countries gathered in Las Vegas to get trained and to network for a single purpose: To save animals’ lives.
One great purpose of The HSUS is to educate and train people within our field. Not every local organization should have to experiment with and invent its own forms of advocacy and animal-care services. We are there to do all that we can to lift our allies in the humane community and to see best practices widely publicized and adopted, and Animal Care Expo is part of that training process.
Photo: Ronda Churchill
One highlight of this year’s Expo was the welcome session where we focused on how our movement can best penetrate under-served communities and reach more pets who aren’t yet sterilized or who need access to wellness services. Our Pets for Life team and other experts from the field challenged the audience’s perceptions about pet owners in under-served communities, illustrating how much pet owners at all socio-economic levels love their pets and want to do the best thing for their pets; how they often don’t have access or can’t afford veterinary care; and how if we as a movement are willing to listen and engage—rather than judge—we can make a real difference for people and their pets.
During the session we announced the launch of a new Community Outreach Toolkit, an interactive manual created by The HSUS’s Pets for Life program and funded by PetSmart Charities. The first of its kind, we’ve designed it to guide organizations through the process of developing and implementing community outreach programs tailored to connect under-served communities with the animal welfare resources, services, and information they need.
PetSmart Charities also announced a broader partnership with The HSUS to offer mentorship and funding to 10 organizations that want to implement or expand their community outreach programs using the Pets for Life approach. Each organization selected for the program will receive funding from PetSmart Charities and hands-on training from The HSUS, helping them to assess their community, develop strategies for understanding and reaching the desired audience, and execute successful targeted outreach events with a focus on spay/neuter.
Animal Care Expo is just one of the many ways The HSUS works for companion animals, and to strengthen the institutions that serve them at all levels. We are protecting pets on every front―promoting the adoption of pets from shelters and rescues; cracking down on puppy mills, pushing for humane breeding standards; ending dogfighting; helping shelters and rescues save more lives by providing educational resources via Humane Society University, Animal Sheltering magazine, and animalsheltering.org; supporting trap-neuter-return for feral cats; and more.
We sponsor a range of programs to propel these ideas, including World Spay Day, the field programs of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and our street dog programs in Asia and throughout the world.
Animal Care Expo is a great reminder that there are individuals and organizations working on these problems just about everywhere. We are now a global movement, and there are dedicated people to be found in every country helping animals. When we work together, and learn from each other, then we will be better positioned to take on the problems that threaten the lives of animals.