There would not be a day that goes by when we don’t see a message of this type:
“Urgent! Please help dog/cat 3214 at ABC Pound – his time is up on Friday; who can take him NOW?”.
And these messages go round and round all the facebook pages and forums ……………to the already converted.
Question: how many of these are seen by Members of Parliament or Gov officials or the town Mayor and Councillors?
Here’s my bet : hardly any, if at all!
Am I right?
So, the bottom line is this: I think that we are very good at preaching to the converted, but really lousy at getting the information out to Ministers, Members and Councillors and policy makers.
Am I being too harsh?
Contrast this to the heavy lobbying done by th ACAC (Australian Companion Animal Council – the self proclaimed “peak body” for the pet industry) and their members. A recent press release by PIAA even had the effrontery to say that : “the problem as stated by animal welfare groups and animal liberationists is over-stated” !!
How low can they get?
Understand very clearly that ACAC and their members are in the ear of Ministers – and in general rescue groups and pound/shelter volunteers are not.
Governments do not like to deal with hundreds of individual people and groups – they want to listen to and deal with well organised groups with “credentials” just like ACAC and their member associations.
Currently, rescue groups have not organised themselves in this way and because of this the message is just NOT getting through to the people who could make a difference.
One of our colleagues recently met with her local Member to ask for support for Clover Moore’s Inquest. When asked what he knew about all this he said …..”It’s about tail docking isn’t it?”
We will not win this fight unless we get the message to the people who make policy.
So here is strategy we would like to promote and it involves every Rescue Group, Foster Group and volunteer playing their part.
It’s simple : tell your Council, local Member, State Ministers what you and your friends spend your time doing in Rescue and Rehoming and why you need to.
- Send them every one of your “please give this dog/cat a home” messages…..
- Adress them personally and ask them what they can do for this particular cat or dog…
- Write up a document called ‘A week in the life of our Rescue Group” or “my week as a pound volunteer” and spell out how much time and money you and your colleagues have to invest in this effort. Count the hours and tell them. Show them photos. Ask them……. ” why am I having to do this?”
- Send them photos of the animals that you were not able to save
- Invite them to come out with you for a day to see what you have to do
- Get them along to the pound to see how it works
- Send them regular “briefing sheets” – itemise all you do and spend
- Ask them to donate money and resources to your efforts
- Ask all your colleagues in rescue, foster and rehoming to get involved
- Send them case studies of failures and successes
- If they have a dog or cat, spell out what would likely happen if their pet ended up in the pound. Make it personal and real to them
- Explain to them what would happen if you and your colleagues “went on strike”
- Send them the statistics from your pound
- Get petitions going in your area and present them to the Mayor at a Council meeting or your local Member’s office
- Explain to them why there is a problem and ask them to investigate and come up with solutions. Send them information
- Write to your local paper and tell them how hard your group or you have to work at this
- Send compilations like this Why
- Lobby your State Gov to initiate annual pound and shelter statistic collection like the NSW model
- here is a document that will give you guidelines on lobbying Guidelines for lobbying
You must make more of a noise or they just won’t “get it”.
Ok, I do know that most Rescue Groups and Charity Shelters work hard at promoting a positive image. We get that…but….
One charity shelter said to us “we don’t like to tell the public how many dogs we have to put down.”…………….
Why the heck not? How are people supposed to know there is a problem to fix if we don’t tell them there is a problem?
How are policy makers supposed to improve things if you don’t tell them?
It can be done – changes happen when people shout hard enough. We cared enough about cattle going to Asia – how is our cronic pound and shelter situation any different?
We invite your comments.
By all means if you act on this, please send us your written documents and we will compile them into a national library.
Let us know how you go! Send us suggestions we can distribute! Post them in the comments section below.