Καλημέρα! “You need to find in your heart that spark that will guide you, support and nourish you each and every day to do what needs to be done to be THE CHANGE THEIR WORLD SCREAMS FOR!”
“With a little bit of faith, YOU can be the change THEIR world SCREAMS for”Norma TorresPresident/FounderYOUCANMAKEADIFFERENCE,INC.
Question to ask yourself before establishing an animal rescue or welfare organization • Why do you want to establish a rescue or an animal welfare organization? What are your strengths, weaknesses as a person? Are you engaging in this venture for the long run or just for a short period of time? • What economic resources to you have or can count with? • What resources are there available in your community? • Do you realize that what you do in your community could affects other communities?
Establishing a rescue/animal welfare organization YCMAD is the end result of a lifelong commitment to animal welfare Beginning in Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States where the lives of animals has no value. I often found stray dogs and cats who were hungry, were suffering from mange and other diseases struggling to survive on streets. These strays were brought to a household where every penny counted and there were no additional economic resources to make possible their care.
Establishing a rescue/animal welfare organization Nonetheless, with ingenuity and resourcefulness slowly it became possible to begin helping these and many other animals. Once healthy they needed to be rehomed. It was then that my future "career" as an animal rescuer began. I contacted the local veterinarian where my services performing chores in the clinic was offered in exchange for services to the animals I rescued. This experience provided the opportunity to gain medical/veterinarian knowledge of animal diseases, conditions and treatment. It also provided the opportunity to view the medical/veterinarian field in the light of service to others and provided a clear clue as to what my path in life should be.
Establishing a rescue/animal welfare organization… “Los Callejeritos de Puerto Rico” was born. It was a collaborative project between my veterinary mentor and Marjorie Guttmann, a North American animal lover residingin the Island. This organization continue to develop and grow. Activism became a part of my life. Attempts to secure assistance from the government prove unsuccessful and motivating the community in this regard was extremely challenging, nonetheless, animals continued to be saved, adopted out and cared for.
Establishing a rescue/animal welfare organization… The organization had a life of its own, animals were saved, rehabilitated and adopted-out. Life presented an opportunity I couldn’t refuse and the organization was left in the capable hands of our co-founder with close monitoring via telephone and frequent visits. Years later, the Puerto Rican experience accompanied by my involvement with multiple animal welfare organizations in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. gave birth to "YOUCANMAKEADIFFERENCE, INC.” in Gadsden Co. Fl. We now operate our organization in Puerto Rico (Los Callejeritos de Puerto Rico) from the USA as a branch of our organization in the mainland YOUCANMAKEADIFFERENCE, INC. I began thinking and acting GLOBALLY, and the time to formally act LOCALLY arrived!
Establishing a rescue/animal welfare organization Gadsden County is a community plagued by all the factors that makes it prime territory for the presence of animal neglect, abuse, abandonment and ultimately their death. The communities we serve are characterized by their population falling at or below the Federal Poverty Guidelines (25-29%), family income is less than $14,000 dollars a year for 2 adults and 2 children (often more); this population is primarily African-American and immigrants from South and Central America with low educational levels, and minimal employment opportunities. These families often encounter domestic violence, drug addiction, and a history of criminal behavior including one very close to us, dog fighting!
Defining your goals, population, services… • Many of these families assume no responsibility with regard to improving their lives, or their children’s lives, much less the lives of their companion animals. • Animals are viewed as a commodity primarily used for protection and or to control vermin and secondarily as companions. Due to economic limitations many of the African American residents who represent the majority in Gadsden Co. FL., engage in dog fighting as a source of income. • Efforts to address this issue confronts the additional problem of actual law enforcement officers being co-participants in this activity and not enforcing but deterring attempts to enforce county ordinances or break-up dog fighting rings.
Defining your goals, population, services… • Animals used in this "enterprise or so called sport" are often raised in a household where domestic violence and extreme poverty is prevalent. • We realized that dealing with issues associated with domestic violence, extreme poverty and means to improve the financial status of these families became pivotal if we were going to improve the lives of companion animals.
Defining your goals, population, servicesHow to go from idea to implementation? Faced with these demographics we gave ourselves to the task of making a decision as to who would be our client, would it be the family or the animal(s) in the household. We understood that in order to change attitudes and behaviors we had to serve them both. On many occasions the companion animals provide us an entrance into a household in chaos; other times the household in chaos provided us with the entrance to help them both, the family as well as the companion animal(s).
“We hate dog fighting!”
What are the effects of animal abuse? • In addition to causing pain and suffering to the animals, animal abuse can be a significant indicator and predictor; one of the earliest ”red flag” warning signs of concurrent or future violent acts. • Abusers and impressionable children who witness or perpetrate abuse become desensitized to violence and the ability to empathize with victims. • Abuse is often cyclical and inter-generational. Psychiatrists and psychologists consider animal abuse the hallmark of future criminal behavior. • Offenders often do not see animal cruelty as a serious crime and may readily admit to animal abuse but not to family violence. • This may be one way to put an offender away where he will not hurt others.
Poverty & Domestic Violence lead to animal abuse Animal abuse, cruelty and neglect are often considered isolated incidents wholly separated from other forms of family violence. Professionals involved with victims of family violence are not surprised when they learn that often these acts are linked. We no longer excuse animal cruelty as “boys will be boys” or “it was only a cat.” We see animal abuse as a hallmark, “the tip of the iceberg” and often the first sign of other family and community violence. Intentional abuse in any form should be taken seriously. Knowing that there is a link, agencies involved in preventing family violence need to work together for a more effective, species-spanning response. Studies completed in New Jersey and Chicago, USA 1999, 2010 revealed that in 88% of families where physical abuse of children has occurred, there was also documented animal abuse.
Domestic violence first victims: animals • There are approximately 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million pet cats in the U.S. where 20 men and women are assaulted per minute (an average of around 10 million a year). • 71 percent of domestic violence victims reported that their abuser also targeted pets. • One study of families under investigation for suspected child abuse, found that pet abuse had occurred in 88 percent of the families under supervision for physical abuse of their children.
Domestic violence first victims: animals • To put a stop to this pattern of violence, the Humane Society Legislative Fund supported the PAWS (Pets and Women’s Safety Act), introduced to Congress in 2015 (Humane Society Legislative Fund, 2015). • The PAWS act would give victims of domestic abuse means to escape their abusers while keeping their companion animals safe — many victims remain in abusive households for fear of their pets’ safety. • The animals whose abuse is most often reported are dogs, cats, horses and livestock. • Based on the 1,423 U.S. cruelty cases on pet-abuse’s.com 2011 digest in which species of the victim was specified: • 70.1% involved dogs. • 20.9% involved cats. • 24.1% involved other animals.
Why do abusers batter animals? • To demonstrate power and control over the family • To isolate the victim and children • To enforce submission • To perpetuate an environment of fear • To prevent the victim from leaving or coerce her to return • To punish for leaving or showing independence
How does extreme poverty affects animals? • We are inundated with videos, photos and pictures of people all over the world suffering but we often forget that poverty abounds in our own backyard, our own community and those around us. • Did you ever consider that in the United States of America there are 45 million of people stuck in poverty? • Victims of poverty are not JUSTpeople...
How does extreme poverty affects animals? • Just as there are 45 million people living in poverty in the USA, there are 10 million dogs around the world experiencing hunger and inhumane living conditions. • These animals face malnutrition, disease, cruelty, females experience the birthing of endless litters of puppies. • Residents in their communities cannot afford to take care of a pet, as they have enough of a hard time taking care of themselves or their families. • Governments have no time or money to make sure animals are looked after. These words describe not only the situation of the animals in Gadsden Co. FL. but their families as well. To address these issues as well as many socio-economic problems our organization has implemented the following initiatives:
What and how to address and change attitudes… • Low-cost (often free) spay, neuter vouchers to low-income families. Families who are unable to afford the co-pay for the procedure are given the alternative of performing community services in lieu of payment. Community service includes among other: posting flyers promoting our services in highly populated areas in the county; performing a household chore for an elderly or disabled neighbor in need; providing services at the local animal control services facility, I.e. cleaning cages. Note that we don't have an animal shelter, only an animal control facility which euthanizes the animals after a three-day hold. • Low-cost (often free) annual vaccination vouchers. Just as with our spay and neuter initiative residents can barter for these vouchers. • Pet food assistance to families for a period of up to three months to families in financial distress, or longer if necessary. This can be extended and often is for up to a year(currently we are providing pet food assistance to 45 families on a monthly basis!)
What and how to address and change attitudes… • Free transportation to and from veterinary clinics for residents unable to afford to miss a day from work to take their companion pet to the veterinarian; and elderly or disabled residents or residents without any form of transportation. • Emergency Veterinary Assistance, this fund allows us to provide financial assistance to families whose companion pet fall ill, suffers an accident, or is otherwise in need of urgent veterinary care. We contribute to the cost of the intervention but we do not cover the total cost for the service. Residents are taught how to access additional services, apply for Care Credit, collect bottles to sell, and any other ideas they can use to create a safety fund.
What and how to address and change attitudes… • Our initiatives are based on our own experience as well as the experience of other organizations. • To make our initiatives sustainable we teach each recipient best care practices for their companion animals and we are in a constant pursue of funding sources. • Our organization is lucky to count with a very generous yearly financial donation from its founders in addition to also covering all administrative expenses, nonetheless, in order to continue to provide the services required by our community a continuous influx of financial resources is always needed.
What and how to address and change attitudes… As a direct result from the implementation of these initiatives revealed that from 2010-2016 we; • Issued3,500 spay/neuter vouchers • 5,300 dogs/cat were vaccinated against Rabies • 1,599 dogs/cats received required yearly vaccines • Provided emergency veterinary assistance to 866 animals • Transported to and from veterinary clinics 2,768 animals • Provided Pet food assistance to 346 families!
Want to get other’s involved? Use Face to face communication…
How to spread the "virus" of "Help us, help them", changing attitudes one resident at a time. Why word of mouth is crucial • The single most effective way to engage others in your project is to meet them face-to-face. • When doing so, remember your goal is to make a good impression. • There is nothing in this world more effective than looking someone in the eyes and sharing your passion for what you do. • Passion is contagious, use it to your advantage. When you meet any person share your dreams, your goals and what your organization does to better not only the humans that surround us but most importantly their companion pets. • Once you have engaged the person in this vision, ask them if there is any way you can help them. • Then, ask them if they think there is any way in which they can help your cause! Remember, no task is too small, no offer should ever be refused.
Spreading the virus… You may be often invited to meetings or other social activities, some related to animal welfare or related to your professional work. If you are invited to a formal animal welfare meeting here are some of the steps you should take prior to attending; • Do your home work, learn everything you can from the person or organization you will be meeting with what are they specifically involved with. • If they ask you questionsbe prepare with your answers to the questions they could ask. • Be straight and honest. • Be factual. • Don’t promise something you cannot deliver. YOUR WORD is your most precious asset.
Spreading the virus… • State what you are looking for. • Share what your expectations from the meeting were. • Be explicitas to your needs and wants. • Tell your potential contributor how helping your organization will benefit them, how it will change their image in the community, how will it impact how other organizations think of their enterprise. • How it will help the community you intent to serve. What type of social problem will it diminish or eliminate. • Remind your prospective contributor that no task or contribution is too small. • Make it known that you value every persons contribution big or small, as each one provides the organization with benefit.
Spreading the virus… Remember: The support of others will come when they see your work in action when they see results when they see you being committed to the project. Nothing is better than teaching/showing by example!
Dealing with REJECTION. Despite your hard work, despite your best effort not every interaction or proposal will render a positive result. Don't be discouraged. Gaining even a few good new members can easily justify the time spent. Winning those new members to your cause often takes time; it usually doesn't happen all at once. What's more, people who may seem indifferent to you now may come around a few months or even longer down the road, just because of the seeds you planted on that first contact. And as for those people who are impolite or rude or worse, don't take it personally. They may just be having a bad day, or a run of bad days. We all do. If we can feel kindly toward them regardless, we may deepen our own character, even if we don't win converts
Spreading the virus… Summary: • Making personal contact with potential members is not always easy. To be as successful as you would like takes time and skill, patience, persistence and perseverance are necessary as well as assertiveness and sensitivity. It calls fully upon the best qualities you have to offer. • But the compensating rewards are well worth it. When people do join and get excited about the work when they start to assume positions of leadership, when your organization gains victories and strengthens community life -- all in large part due to your efforts -- you can take deserved and long-lasting satisfaction in a job well donebut more importantly you will know that you are now on the way to saving more and more lives each day. After all this is the main reason why you work so hard.
Once your rescue/organization is established what is next? • How to keep it open, and expanding. • How not to lose sight of your ultimate goal.
Networking and funding • Count only with the funds you know will be there no matter the circumstances, this funding usually comes from the organization’s founders and/or Board Members. Your primary budget should always be based on this! Above all, you must be prepare to operate with the funding you already have as you may not be awarded any grant funding or receive any donations from your community. • Always dream bigger than your funding allows you, but only work with the funding you know is secure. This will allow you to serve the animals you truly can help, and if more funding arrives you can safely expand.
How to secure funding (1) Take one hour of each day to get to meet residents in your community. Visit churches, other organizations, go house to house, visit businesses, participate in sport activities. Come prepare with a short description of what your organization has to offer to residents, businesses and the community in general. (2) Another hour of your busy schedule (as if you had free time) must be devoted to locate funding sources. Prepare a binder with all the organizations that offer animal welfare grants. The WEB is your best friend!
Networking and funding • Organize the binder by calendar month when the grant needs to be submitted. In each pocket include complete information and application form for each agency. • Divide the information you collect in five different areas. 1. Organizations that provide funding to improve your facility 2. Organizations that provide funding for spay or neuter 3. Organizations that provide funding for basic and preventative care for companion pets. 4. Organizations that provide funding for emergency veterinary assistance. 5. Organizations that provide pet food to animal shelters/rescues
Networking and funding Take the time to prepare a budget for the year for which you are requesting funding. Make sure that your budget is based on facts you can support with data. Include all the anticipated expenses and always make sure to have some funding allotted for emergencies. Prepare a formal template of a letter of inquiry for organizations for which this is a requirement. Tailor your letter of inquiry to the areas you know the grantor provides funding for. Remember to address their expectations. Let them know who you are, why was your organization created, what is/are your community (ies) needs, what are your goals and objectives and how you plan to achieve them. Let them know how important their collaboration is and how you will recognize their involvement in your project.
Networking and funding Don’t despair if despite all your efforts you receive no funding on any given year, that is why you are operating only with the budget you knew you could count on. Funders just like everyone of us have good and bad years as well as regulations they have to abide by. No matter your failures, keep trying, keep submitting proposals, sooner or later your perseverance will pay and you will be able to achieve the dream of helping more animals. Remember, Rome was not built in one day! Keep your good work, keep helping animals in your community. Changing their lives you will be changing the way your community views animal welfare. Word of mouth will be your best recommendation and your perseverance will render the desired results. You just need a “little bit of Faith to be the change THEIR world Screams For!