20th Anniversary of International Homeless Animals' Day

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20th Anniversary of International Homeless Animals' Day

From International Society for Animal Rights (ISAR)

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.

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, www.isaronline.org.

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, www.isaronline.org, 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, etc...you 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!