President’s Message:

We May Not be Able to Change the World, But We All Can Make a Difference

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

With all the wildfires, tornadoes, and flooding that have occurred recently, it seems at times as though the world is coming apart and we are powerless to change things. We feel overwhelmed looking at the big picture. So perhaps we can look at the smaller one — things we can do something about.

A story comes to mind told at a conference I attended: a young man who lived by the sea walked along the beach each morning and picked up starfish that had been left behind by the tide and tossed them back in the water. A man walking by saw him and said, “There are miles of beaches and thousands of starfish; you can’t make a difference.” The young man picked up the next starfish and tossed it into the water and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

How does that relate to us? Simple actions can and do make a difference. Several NYSHA members donate pet food monthly to the various food pantries in our area. The staffers there are pleased to receive the donation, and I have met some of the recipients and they are most grateful, as their beloved animals are better fed.

We can also donate to those organizations that are assisting the animals and people who are recovering from the catastrophes that have befallen them. There are humane groups on the ground struggling to help injured and lost animals and they need support. (See Helping Ukraine’s Animals and Helping Turkey’s/Syria’s Animals on our website.)

On another note, numerous people respond to our pleas to write to their legislators to support bills that better the lives of animals. Those letters, calls, and emails make a difference and can influence legislators and the Governor to pass those bills which result in better protection for animals.

People often reach out to us about possible cruelty situations, and we advise them as to the most effective way to communicate with their local police and SPCAs and provide those agencies with the relevant facts, so those cases can be investigated, thus making a difference in the lives of those animals.

On another front, volunteers bring their therapy dogs of all makes and models into hospitals and nursing homes. The visiting animals bring such joy and happiness to the patients there, some of whom may be suffering from a terminal illness.

A difference also can be made by not supporting businesses or activities that exploit animals:

  • Don’t acquire your companion animal from a pet shop;
  • Don’t attend the racetrack where horses are whipped as part of the show and often break down on the track and are euthanized;
  • Don’t attend rodeos where animals may be cruelly shocked and suffer injuries; and
  • Don’t attend circuses where wild animals have been “trained” to perform in unnatural ways.

We may not be able to change the world, but we all can make a difference.

Please be kind to animals,
Patricia Valusek

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XLII, Fall 2023.