Pets and People in 2015

In a year when much has happened to shake our faith in humanity, it is helpful to highlight but a few of the major victories people have made on behalf of companion animals:

  • In celebration of becoming the nation’s first no-kill county, San Diego proclaimed July 1 “Save A Pet Day.” Since 2012 county officials have collaborated with local shelters on the “Getting To Zero” project, achieving its goal five years ahead of schedule. Under the declaration, no healthy or treatable animal companion shall be euthanized. Continued success of the program is heavily dependent on families willing to foster.
  • The first of hundreds of dogs destined for Asian dinner plates arrived in the U.S. last March for adoption thanks to the unflagging efforts of Humane Society International. Beagles, poodles and Korean Jindos and Tosas were among the breeds rescued from a South Korean dog meat farmer reportedly trying to leave the trade. Many of the newly-adopted dogs knew no other than the deplorable conditions into which they were born and raised.
  • Driven by the simple yet brilliant idea that shelter animals enveloped by the warmth of a gently-used blanket are more adoptable, Operation Blankets of Love saved an estimated 24,000 animal companions this year. Founded in 2008, OBOL has spearheaded countless animal rescue efforts including massive emergency airlifts, a trap-neuter-release program for feral cats on Catalina Island and programs promoting responsible pet ownership in elementary schools.
  • By a vote of 62-0 the New York State Senate passed bill SS3321 authorizing domestic companion animals to be permitted aboard any commuter transportation operated by the metropolitan transportationauthority or any of its subsidiaries in the event of a state emergency and evacuation of a region. Introduced in February of this year by Sen. Andrew J. Lanza, the bill is pending action by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • What began as a search for his lost dog ended in the rescue of more than 2,000 dogs by Wang Yan of Jilan province, China. Following a lead, Yan arrived at a local slaughterhouse. Yan did not find his dog there, but he was so repulsed by scenes of carnage that he spent his entire life savings (roughly the equivalent of $470,000 U.S. dollars) to buy the dog meat factory and relocate its residents to an abandoned steel mill he converted into an animal sanctuary.

The year 2015 proved again that not all heroes wear capes - or walk on two legs:

  • In January, a newborn was saved from freezing to death in the town of Obninsk, Russia, by a stray tabby named Masha. The cat reportedly curled herself around the infant, who had been abandoned on a stairwell with minimal provisions, and licked his face. Neighbors eventually responded to Masha’s cries and rescued the pair from sub-zero temperatures.
  • Until last spring, Toefu, a spaniel mix, had been kept by Knoxville, Tennessee, hoarders in squalor along with 75 other dogs and never knew the feel of grass beneath her feet. Following her rescue by animal control officers, Toefu was nurtured by ASPCA behaviorist, Kristen Collins, and today coaxes dogs with similar abusive pasts out of their shells.
  • Black crows may have a reputation for portending death, but one English crow was not beyond showing gratitude. In September, a Good Samaritan gently pried “Russell’s” head from a wooden fence where he’d gotten stuck, then opened his home to the recovering bird. As an apparent “thank you,” the freed Russell later returned with a crew of crow brethren to say “hello.”

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.