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Betsy Saul Keynote: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers
 

Betsy Saul Keynote: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers

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Betsy Saul's opening keynote address at BlogPaws 2012: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers

Betsy Saul's opening keynote address at BlogPaws 2012: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers

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  • Good morning! I’m honored that I was chosen to be your keynote speaker. That is a lot of responsibility. I am supposed to set a tone for the conference. Wake you up. Inspire and enlighten you. And most importantly, I’m supposed to have a good joke. Well, I don’t have a great joke – I have happy tails. But I’ll do my best. So. Have you ever heard the one about the two identical-twin-nuns that walked into the animal shelter?
  • Passion, money, religion, sex, and morality
  • Alright, so this is really a story about a Dalmatian who came into the shelter. Big, gorgeous dog with those soulful eyes. Trouble is she was an intense bonder. So intense that she’d bond with one individual and didn’t care for a lot of other interlopers. She was, tragically, dog aggressive, not trustworthy around kids, and really hated men.
  • But as luck would have it, when the Dalmatian was turned into the shelter to be euthanized, one lone staff member fell in love with those soulful eyes and looked past all the other flaws to see the real inner-dog and when that happens, all bets are off! She convinced the shelter director to give a stay of execution for just a week to see if anyone would adopt her. A week turned into a month and a month turned into more until finally the shelter director had a real problem on her hands. Here was her best staff member who had fallen in love and the Director was going to have to break her heart. Would it break her spirit, too? This sort of compassion fatigue can claim the best of us in animal welfare. The staff member begged for more time, you see she had several dogs at home and couldn’t take the dog home herself. Who could, after all, take a dog and ensure that it would never be around kids, dogs, men…? And this dog was taking space in the shelter from other dogs who were adoptable. The Director gave her until Friday.
  • Friday came and slipped slowly by. At the very end of the day, just as the shelter was closing up, these two identical twin nuns walked in the door. They walked the adoption floor and settled right in front of the Dalmatian’s run. Nose to nose, it was love at first sight, for all three of them. Of course the shelter director was dubious, lots of people had been intrigued by the pure bred Dalmatian, until they heard her issues. She told the nuns, “this dog is scheduled for euthanasia and is really unadoptable.” The nuns were unrelenting. The Director said, “She bonds with only one person.” They said, “We’re identical twins.” The Director said, “She can’t be around any other dogs.” They said, “There are no other dogs near us.” The Director said, “She isn’t safe around kids and men and you can’t ensure that she won’t hurt someone.”They said, “We live on a convent.”The matching set of three all went home to their childless, manless, quiet convent where they were all very happy together. -- This true story makes me feel like there just may be someone for everyone. If only we had the proper resources and commitment.

Betsy Saul Keynote: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers Betsy Saul Keynote: Top Issues for Pet Bloggers Presentation Transcript

  • 1
  • A VERY FAST TOURof a (recently) very fast- changing industry Animal Welfare Origins Animal Welfare Today Hot Topics 2
  • 1,500 years of Animal Welfare3300 BC thru the 1800’s• 3300 BC: Indus region religions felt animals are ancestors reborn (Bronze Age)• 500 BC: Monotheistic faiths: Animals as property• 1800‟s: first SPCAs, first discussions of general welfare • Still largely animal control for rabies prevention • “Dog catchers” rewarded “per dog” • Lots of ugliness and corruption Onlookers, not protesters 3
  • A subtle shift occurs in the 1820‟s Protective legislation • Since then, Dual Principals have guided “Animal Welfare” • Human morality (rabies prevention) • Humane treatment (animal rights) 4
  • Animal Welfare has everything you shouldNEVER discuss on a first date! 5
  • 1930‟s: First pet food ads suggest dog‟s value 6
  • It still took 45 years to consider adoptions!Formation of AnimalProtection Societies• London 1824• New York 1866• Erie County 1867• San Francisco 1868• Massachusetts 1868• Pennsylvania 1868• PA Women’s SPCA 1869 (1st to allow adoptions. Now called Women’s HS) Caroline Earle White - Foremother of American Animal Welfare Co-founder of PA-SPCA, Founder of Women‟s Branch of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Anti-Vivisection Society 7
  • 1960‟s: Animal Welfare as we know it The Five Freedoms • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst • Freedom from Discomfort • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour • Freedom from Fear and Distress 8
  • Also in the 60‟s the Internet was born.Then, in 1995… Animal Welfare gets a boost • Only 100,000 web sites existed in „95 • Search engines are born • PETFINDER launches at www.clemson.edu/~betsy/petfinder.html • I was told, “You can never unify adoption groups. They‟ll never get along.” 9
  • Why was Petfinder‟s impact revolutionary?New in the last 16 years• Proliferation of foster-based rescue system is made possible• Rescue individuals are nationally supported for the first time• Fostering and marketing become the norm• Consolidation of virtual adopters online allows millions to directly benefit homeless pets annually• Shelter worker‟s commitment to animals is validated by foot traffic like never before• Promotion of pets as family to over 6 million people each month 10
  • Petfinder‟s new call for blogger partners• New look • Pet care• New engine • Training (dogs and• Provides an cats) opportunity for • Pet health syndication to • Celebration Petfinder audience • Funny, cute, too! of 7 million visitors a • Pet news month! JANE@PETFINDER.COM 11
  • Alright, so this is really a story about a Dalmatian 12
  • Animal Welfare Today A fast maturing industry 13
  • Animal Welfare today • Perhaps 5,000 U.S. physical animal shelters (12,600 adoption groups on Petfinder) • 6-8 million animals enter shelters each year • 3-4 million euthanasias • 3-4 million adoptions • Unknown number of feral cats (managed and unmanaged) • Over 62% of hhs have pets (only 30% have children) • Over $100 million in subsidized s/n alone 14
  • What informs Animal Welfare Today Animal Animal Rights Control The very passionate field of ANIMAL WELFARE 15
  • Who are Animal Welfare partners? Retailers Clinics Follow up Services Events Humane Societies/SPCAs • Municipal/Gov’t Shelters • Foster Based Rescue Groups • Breed Specific Groups • State/Regional Associations • Animal “Rights” Groups • Assistance Groups • Veterinary Offices • Individuals 16
  • People are REALLY serious about adoption How committed are you to adoption/rescue (as opposed to getting a pet from a pet store or breeder?) Very Somewhat Not really. I just want a great pet. 17
  • Audience: Does it matter who your adoptionpartner is? Would you rather adopt from a shelter or a rescue/foster group? Dont know the diff 6% Shelter 19% Foster Group Dont care 24% 51% 18
  • One lone staff member fell in love 19
  • Please ADOPT ME!!!!Big ideas and hot issues in animal welfare 20
  • Calling all FIRST FOLLOWERS:WRITERS, THIS MEANS YOU! 21
  • Still failing: Cats “The cat situation is a freakin’ mess!” *quote from highly respected national animal welfare professional •Pet Cats / Feral Cats •Community cats guestimated at 9-90 Million •Lack of community awareness/involvement •Cats fare far worse than dogs in Animal Welfare •More cats than dogs in shelters •2.5% of lost cats returned to owners (8.5% for dogs) •55% of cats in shelters die there (27% for dogs) •Check out CATalystcouncil.org 22
  • Highly controversial: Pit Bull Type Dogs •Proliferation of Pit Bull type dogs face: • Breed-specific legislation • Insurance and community discrimination • Dog-fighting/abuse •That big head means: • Longer “length of stay”Once known as America‟s • Risk of kennel deteriorationbabysitter. Maybe next: • Increased euthanasia Stubby Dog •Need: • Education; Promotion; New Yorkie? Population reduction 23
  • Watch out: “No-kill”. Seem like a no-brainer?• Origins SFSPCA partnership • Embedded in this issue: with animal control to divide • The numbers game to obtain and conquer (marketing) “zero euthanasia” of• Incredibly effective for “adoptable” pets marketing and donations • Many “no kill” organizations are• No Kill / Kill is divisive and foster groups with no shelter demoralizing • Some shelters are• “Euthanasia” is sugarcoating contracted/chartered to take all and dishonest strays. What happens when they are full?• Reality: What do we do with unwanted pets in our • When a “no kill” facility fills up, community what happens to the pets they have to turn away?• Unintended consequences of calling a shelter a “kill” shelter • Less controversial synonyms • “No Kill” = Limited Admission • “Kill” = Open Admission • Definitely less politically charged 24
  • Hot Topic: Standards of Care • Ideal to move to Zero Euthanasia causes: • A lot of pressure on institutions • Holding pets longer • Physical needs of shelter pets • Assn of Shelter Veterinarians have created written standards Petfinder.com • Mental/Emotional needs Foundation‟s: Train To • Uniform Quality of Life Adopt pilot showed standards still needed huge correlation between mental stimulation and adoptability 25
  • Opportunity: Transport Does “Supply” = “Demand”?Does Supply = Demand? Challenges:•Some urban areas in the • Regulation/Best Practices US have far fewer • Disease containment incoming “adoptable” • Rabies, heartworm (desirable?) dogs than • Expenses they need.•Some folks are filling the gap by bringing dogs from overpopulated areas 26
  • Crises: Customer Service• We here stories of Are shelter workers people being turned off courteous and of adoption professional?• Only 74/120 shelters passed our secret No shopper customer 6% service tests • Resource-stretched people / programs Very • Compassion fatigue 51% amongst staff / volunteers Some • 6%: Not “people people” what 43% 27
  • Hot Topic: Customer Service Have you ever What has been your contacted an adoption experience with the group and received no adoption process? reply? Yes Unpleasant No 40% 60% Very positive and happy Mostly positive and Happy I havent had an experience yet Adoption process was unpleasant (but Im happy with my pet) 28
  • Growing issue: Animal Hoarding • Complex issue with components of: • Mental Health; • Public Safety; and • Animal Cruelty • Increasing in prevalence with estimated 900-2,000 new cases each year • Pressure to avoid euthanasia or go “No Kill” has led to institutional cruelty in some cases • Prosecution alone unsuccessful – requires collaboration with social services and animal welfare 29
  • Shifting Role of SheltersMeeting the mission Challenge of the last 10%• Fewer “easy” dogs; cats. • The homeless popluation• Community outreach into of dogs is harder to treat / underserved regions care for / adopt• Maintaining relevance by • Breed-o-graphic issues expanding responsibilities are more expensive and • Behavior hotlines controversial to tackle • Training Wheels • Per pet cost benefit? • Yappy Hour • Increasing cost of saving a • Dog parks life • What if it cost $1000 to save each pet? 30
  • Percolating issue: Mass Sterilization (aka S/N)Benefits Cost• Unquestionable over- • $106 Million per year (over population in some $500 Million if you include private s/n) regions • Potential loss of genetic• Decreases roaming diversity held by “the great American mutt” behavior in males • Shifting adoptable population• Decreases yucky sexy- to bully breeds cat behaviors • Behavior and health risks to pets• Human health! High • increasing some cancers positive correlation with • weight related diseases up rabies control • dog-dog aggression in females • Costs (financial and emotional) associated with diseases linked to obesity 31
  • Big news: Non-surgical sterilization17% of s/n is subsidized Impact of not being more83% is in private practice efficient in subsidized s/n • Current annual spend $106,000,000 @ $50 each • Reduce to $25 and save $53,000,000 each year • Check out ACC-D.org 32
  • Friday came and slipped slowly by. 33
  • So, what can you do?Embrace your role in Above all else: Pets asincreasing ethical literacy family• Instigate • Does your point of view of • Watch out for and identify new pets as family members ring trends through everything you • Create new conversations produce? • Frame the future • Use your might to stretch• Catalyze the expectations of what it • Highlight proactive programs in means to be a good pet your community parent • Bring people and ideas together • Always spotlight good• Reiterate citizens (pets and humans) • New information needs to be • If you see something you introduced several times and framed several ways to “catch like, allow yourself to start a on” movement –by being the • Use your traditional and your first to follow social networks 34
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