President’s Message:

Make a Difference for the Animals in Your Life

Pat Valusek, president of New York State Humane Association
Pat Valusek, President of New York State Humane Association.

It is a troubling time for people who care about animals. It seems that every week we hear of some new horror that negatively impacts animals — legislation that lowers or removes safeguards for animal habitats, government restriction of access to USDA data and records, as discussed in our prior newsletter, and the sickening impacts of climate change on animal territories. The big picture is enough to make you want to hide your head in a bucket. How to cope with it all and stay positive is a challenge to all of us each day.

The only way I have found to cope is to focus on the actions that I can control. I can contact elected officials and let them know NYSHA’s and my opinion on critical issues. I can vote to elect public servants who share my view point and that of other individuals sympathetic to the plight of animals. Given the contacts that NYSHA has throughout the state, I can reach out and offer our assistance with security bond postings and referrals to agencies who call for guidance.

I can also do things that are more hands-on and warm the soul. I can volunteer at local animal sanctuaries and equine rescues and simply offer human kindness to the animals there by petting them and sometimes grooming them, many of whom have not had much positive attention in their lives. I can simply walk shelter dogs who dearly appreciate being taken out of their cages for a romp around the grounds.

All organizations, including ours, appreciate volunteers to assist with events, such as helping at fund raisers or participating in protests at race tracks; that is something I do. Some humane agencies have pet food banks to help people who are experiencing economic hardships. I am sure they would welcome help picking up pet food donated by local supermarkets and bringing it to their facilities.

The point is, when the big picture is looking dark and scary, it is good to focus on the smaller picture to find some joy and satisfaction — helping animals is one place to look. I recall a story that was given at a seminar that stayed with me and seems especially relevant. There was a man who lived by the beach and each morning he would walk along the shore and pick up starfish left behind by the tide, each starfish fighting for life. He would toss each one back into the ocean. One morning, another man saw him and said, “Why bother doing that, it doesn’t make a difference, they will wash up again.” As the first man tossed another one into the sea, he replied, “It makes a difference to this one.” We must find that same desire to make a difference in a way that matters to us.

Always be kind to animals,

Patricia Valusek

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXXI Fall 2017.