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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 27 September 2001 Issue

PAWPRINTS, FOOTPRINTS AND ANIMAL CHATTER
BY: JUDITH MARIE GANSEN

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Courage and Wisdom in the Face of Adversity

There are no words eloquent enough to express what we are feeling now as Americans after the attacks on our country.  Rage, shock, grief, disbelief and a multitude of other emotions have rained down on our beloved country like the ashes that fell when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed.  I can't help feeling as though this is a terrible nightmare that any minute I will wake up from.

Our little dog Packiee, who never bothered with the TV before this incident, kept going to the TV set as I watched the horror unfold at the World Trade Center, searching around the back of the TV, under it, putting his paws on it and then looking at me.   He knew something inside that TV set was making me cry and making me upset for so long and he wondered what it was.  Animals are so intelligent and sensitive.

As we struggle to come to grips with this great atrocity we will see the best and worst of human beings in the days ahead.  This event will test our faith, our courage, our character and our patriotism.  The terrorists want us to be afraid and they want us to panic which is why we must refuse to allow that to happen.  Courage is the ability to face fear even though afraid.  You can either allow fear to overtake you or refuse to allow it to do so.

I looked up some quotes that might give us comfort and wisdom at this important historical time: (many of these quotes give us comfort and support in our work as activists too).

Quotes:

1) "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face...You must do the thing you think you cannot do."--Eleanor Roosevelt

2) "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.   Therefore we will not fear."--Ps.36:1-2

3) "Fear is nature's warning signal to get busy."--Henry Link

4) "Worry is a word that I don't allow myself to use."--Dwight D. Eisenhower

5) "One man with courage makes a majority."--Andrew Jackson

6) "Courage in danger is half the battle."--Plautus

7) "We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival."--Winston Churchill

8) "A wounded deer leaps the highest."--Emily Dickinson

9) "Those things that hurt, instruct."--Benjamin Franklin

10) "Do not lose your inward peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."--Saint Francis de Sales

11) "Emergencies have always been necessary to progress.  It was darkness which produced the lamp.  It was fog that produced the compass.  It was hunger that drove us to exploration.  And it took the depression to teach us the real value of a job."--Victor Hugo

12) "Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere.  Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors."--Abraham Lincoln

13) "The people, when they rise to mass in behalf of union and the liberty of their country, truly may it be said: the gates of Hell cannot prevail against them."--Abraham Lincoln

14) "A house divided against itself cannot stand."--Abraham Lincoln

15) "Adversity is a severe instructor...He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill.  Our antagonist is our helper."--Edmund Burke

Practical Ideas:

While many of us want to help at a time like this, I have noticed in addition to false information flying around the net and even being spread by well-meaning people that some horrible people are trying to take advantage of this situation.  Here are some ideas for us to think about (I am not trained in this, but rely on those that are):

1) Prepare an emergency disaster kit (get out of the "it won't happen to me mode!")--I am known as the "safety nut" in our family and alot of that comes from working as a secretary for a police department for years--it can't hurt to have some food ahead (people and pets), medications, water, plastic storage bags, first aid kit, pet kit (medical items, pet food, extra leashes and bowls, pet carrier, pet photo, pet records and pet first aid book) etc.  Include solar & regular flashlight, solar/reg radio, batteries, blankets.  Be sure to include emergency supplies in your cars--I use marked duffel type bags with water bottles, flip top canned food, etc. I have always done this as a matter of routine to protect against things like severe weather, evacuations due to chemical spills, etc.  Keep emergency records (insurance papers, etc.) in a bag that you can grab easily to go.  If you can't afford to do this at least do something.  Maybe purchase an item each paycheck.  Many items can be found at dollar stores, thrift shops, army surplus, discount, garage sales, etc.   Think about what is important to you (valuables, family photos?) should you have to evacuate--after one gasoline spill the people were given 20 minutes to take items.   What would you take?  Leave a note so emergency people will know you have evacuated and not waste time on you (while this is a tipoff for a would-be thief, I think the priority should not be on material possessions).  Y2K turned out to be a blessing because we learned so much from it. Here are some sites:

American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/#  
FEMA http://www.fema.gov/pte/  (pages on people and animal related on site)
Margaret's Weather http://www.clever.net/cam/emergprep/html  
Earthquake Supplies http://www.earthquakestore.com/emergency-handbook.html
Suffolk County http://www.suffolkspca.org/index2.html  

2) For schoolchildren it can't hurt to put an I.D. card securely inside a bookbag or on them with emergency contact info.  Keep in mind the bookbag could get stolen so it's a personal decision here as you have to decide how much personal info you would want out there.  Especially for younger children this may be important--even kids who know emergency contact info may be confused or upset or not able to speak if hurt.  There are also I.D. necklaces, etc. you can find for this.  Be sure to include contact info for relatives or friends outside of an area which may be important should a whole area be evacuated.  When people are in a group it is easy for little ones to get separated from others caring for them.  We don't like to think of things like this happening but we must.  Remember you can teach kids to do things a certain way but in the chaos of a disaster even adults don't always think straight.  Tailor your emergency preparations according to where you live for earthquakes, tornadoes, winter storms, etc.   Be organized for the ones you love and prepare!

3) In a disaster, take your pets with you!  I can't imagine any person leaving them.  I know that Red Cross places will not allow them there.  Our dogs are members of our family and where we go, they go.  If this means we have to live in our car with them for awhile I would do that too (keep a kennel cab close to the car to grab--good temporary housing for small pets).  There are books that show animal friendly motels but you may not be able to find one right away.  The attitude about this issue is beginning to change as emergency preparedness has finally realized we will risk our lives for the animals we love and then we become their problem anyway, so they are becoming a bit more animal-oriented.

4) Take a first aid course or brush up on one if you already are trained.   The person needing CPR may be your loved one with no one around to help but you.   Get a video or book on first aid for your animals too.  I keep books in each car and at home on first aid for animals (found them on clearance for $2!).  If you have a trained person in the family ask them to have a family training session for first aid.  Make it fun--it doesn't have to be all gloom and doom.

5) If not already done, tattoo or microchip your pet as well as having collar tags.  It's the best way to ensure your pet would get to you if lost or stolen.   Our dogs have all three.  I am also a big believer in "dog seatbelts"--it astounds me how many people don't know about them.  Any pet store should have them--they protect your pet in case of a car accident and prevent them from causing accidents should they jump in your lap.  Animals who are well-trained may not listen to you during a disaster if upset, so keeping them secure is important.  Our vet says dog seatbelts are better than kennel cabs in a car accident although there are different opinions on this.

6) Keep some cash on hand.  This could come in handy if you can't get to an ATM machine or the machines don't work.  During Y2K I cut out a cardboard circle and fit it inside a cookie food tin (gave it a "false" bottom to protect the cash) and kept it in one of the emergency bags.

7) Think about adopting a pet from the tragedy.  There are so many left homeless now with no one to love them--cats and dogs I have heard about.  Only do this as a lifetime commitment; otherwise provide foster care for one or more.  I admit to being a "dog person" but our dogs do give us great comfort as they always let us know who is around.  Dogs have been known to scare burglars away--that is why they sell those devices that make barking sounds.  Certain breeds of dogs are not barkers or watchdogs by nature--read up on it if that is important to you.  When the economy gets bad unfortunately some people have been known to resort to crime.   Another idea is to offer to drive those animals affected to new homes if you can.   Here is one place working on these issues.  There are more. http://www.suffolkspca.org/index2.html Suffolk County SPCA

8) Think before helping on your own.  People can make things worse without meaning to.  One area wanted to send postcards addressed to the World Trade Center to show support.  While this is a comforting idea, I would suppose the post offices over there are already quite overwhelmed.  I personally think we should avoid that type of thing and do it through the net.  I was immediately going to ship some extra pet supplies I had but then thought better of it (I didn't get responses to my emails so didn't know what they needed at first)--the last thing the animal shelters need is stuff they don't need or have to unload or unpack.  I have heard 47 different versions as to whether the rescue dogs need booties.  Go on the animal rescue web sites there and see what they have posted.  The folks on the "front lines" know best.

9) Don't stop spending money if possible!  It's the quickest way to put people out of work.  Senator McCain said this on Jay Leno's show.  Thank you, Senator McCain, you don't need to tell me twice to go shopping! :)  If you prefer to shop from home there is the internet and home shopping stations as well as gift catalogs.   Get your Christmas shopping done now.

10) Take a self defense class, judo, karate, etc.  Not that I think we will do hand to hand combat with a terrorist but there is nothing better to help build confidence, courage, discipline and make people feel empowered.  If you don't have one in your area, find someone to teach it.  There are also instructional videos and books.

11) Read up on WW2 - while this was a different kind of conflict, we can get ideas from the ingenuity of the people who lived through it.

Think Before You Speak or Act:

During WW2 there was a poster that said something like "Loose lips sink ships."  I am somewhat critical of the media right now because too much info is being given out.  Yes most of the info is available out there but shall we do the research for the enemy to save them time?  We all need to bond with people in a time of crisis but passing on the fact that security is bad somewhere may innocently be passed on to someone needing that kind of info.  Think before you speak.

Rumor Control:

During times like this we are so hungry for news.  We sometimes turn to things we hear and that is very dangerous.  If you don't know it occurred or the information isn't reliable, please don't scare the daylights out of people.  We were blessed with a brain to think with so if it doesn't sound logical to you, check it out.   Passing on rumors hurts our country and can cause panic.

To The People Harassing or Harming Fellow Americans:

I share your rage and grief but you are making things worse, please realize that.   Spreading around hate emails and graffitti and threats, etc. hurts our country.   Don't you get it, this is what the enemy wants!  Divide and conquer!   They want a Holy War--especially if they can get one going inside our own borders!   I can only imagine how terrified peace-loving Arab Americans must be.  There are Arab Americans in our armed forces, in Congress and many that were killed in the bombings.  They were victims too.  Hearing about these crimes even made me wonder if it might not be the terrorists themselves doing this to start internal strife.   Have compassion for the people who have nothing to do with this heinous crime.

Instead, take that negative energy and channel it into positive by helping.   Give blood, send money, find a way to make money for the cause.  Do something for the families of our wonderful armed forces.  Help the rescue animals who are getting injured helping us.  One dog has already died from heat exhaustion.   Call your fire or police department to see if they need volunteers for anything.   Stay alert and report tips to the police or FBI.  Buy or sell things on Ebay--where there is a U.S. flag by an auction all the money goes to helping the victims.   They are hoping to raise 100 million dollars in 100 days.  Make flags because they are out of them everywhere.

Educate yourself!  I had to force myself to watch it (I felt I needed the Three Stooges more!), but Forrest Sawyer did a great 2 hour show called Behind the Terror--Understanding the Enemy (BBC America/Discovery).  I learned that Islam teaches you should never harm a woman, child, building, a tree with a green leaf or a man unless he is about to hurt you.  Sounds like the bad guys have changed their religion to suit their own style (some Christians and other religions do this too, don't they?)   I learned that the terrorists believe that there is no distinction between civilians (including children) or those in uniform.  The chilling fact is they would like us all dead because of our "decadent" lifestyle.  What struck me while watching is that if we all stuck to the basic teachings of our religions there would be no wars or suffering.

Stop and think--we will need Arab Americans because we need translators.   Will they want to help after they have been harassed, killed or threatened or will you force them to go to the other side by hurting their loved ones?  How much time is law enforcement wasting on this intimidation campaign that takes precious time away from looking for the terrorists still here?  Do you see how you are hurting your own country by doing these things?  Would you like someone to assume you are a criminal by the way you look or due to your religion?  An FBI agent not long ago was arrested for selling secrets.  Should we assume then that all FBI agants are spies?   Don't give in to racism or racist acts--it weakens us.  Intelligent, reasonable people look for ways to improve things in a crisis, not ways to harm.  Our great Constitution guarantees the Freedom of Religion.  All religions are welcome here and our great diversity is our great strength.

I have never claimed to be the smartest person in the world, but some things should be common sense to us.  Feel free to pass part or all of this article on to anyone--it may make people think.  I once saw the comedian Howie Mandell do a stunt where he told these people in a hotel that he worked for the hotel and he had them line up in single file for "crowd control."  There was no crowd, but it astounded me how many people did as they were told except for one woman who questioned him about it.   Being a naturally independent type, I question everything (just ask my husband what a pain I can be!)  In this crisis, however, we are out of the loop and don't know what intelligence knows.  I pray for the victims and the heroes.  I pray for the animals.  I pray we do the right thing.  I pray for my country.

Credit Animals In Print, http://www.all-creatures.org/aip/

Return to Animals in Print 27 Sep 2001 Issue

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