Last week, 2 things happened on the same day.
Firstly I got an email from a person with inside information on a situation in a certain Shelter in Australia. I was given a great deal of information, but was told that this must remain confidential and anonymous. Now, I don’t know how to help change things if people want to remain “anonymous”and not put their name to their claims.
It happens a lot and it’s very frustrating. We are sitting on this mass of information and can do nothing with it. It’s not a good feeling.
Then later that same day I was sent a link to one of Nathan Winograd’s articles called “Courage and cowardice in the fight for a no kill nation”. In this article, expressed better than I could, he says :
“I spend a fair part of my day on the telephone. And when I can help someone reform their local pound or when I can help a shelter manager improve their rate of lifesaving, I find it rewarding. But there is one type of telephone call (and e-mail) that fills me with dread. And that is the person who calls about inhumane treatment or other unethical behavior of a local “shelter” or animal welfare organization, but wants to remain anonymous.”
There are many reasons why people want to remain anonymous. “John Smith” in a comment on one of our blog says ” We all wrote to the committee with our concerns for the cats welfare and incidences of malpractice and were met with threatening letters from their lawyers claiming that if we took the matter any further then legal action against of us would be pursued. None of us were in the financial position to go through this and so we all had to drop our complaints.”
Fear of legal action is a well used big stick, we are discovering. We have had a couple ourselves, so we know the feeling!
Sometimes people are fearful of physical retribution – “they know where I live” has been said to us on more than one occasion.
As hard as we try to change their minds, we have to respect their wishes, but, gee it makes it hard to get change going.
It doesn’t help when some of the press refuse to print a story without a real name – many stories are getting buried before they are born.
When we can influence people to speak up, as in the GAWS matter, then the ball gets rolling, other people climb in and campaigns can gather the momentum they need.
Winograd’s article says it all …………. please read it and pass it around.
I’ll end with his words:
“The most majestic thing of all is the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for the freedom and dignity of others. Especially when those others have no voice of their own.
Stand up. Speak out. Fight the power. Without you, the animals don’t stand a chance.”
Please let us know what you think about this subject. It’s not about making people who won’t go public “wrong”or “bad” – for them the fear is real.
We have to make it safe and support them. How can we do that? We need ideas and suggestions please! If you are one of these people, please write and tell us what is stopping you and how we can help you!
Let’s discuss this issue in a practical and unemotional way and come up with solutions.