"How will things change unless we make waves? How will we end the killing? How will we stop the abuse unless we expose it?" - Nathan J. Winograd
In his most recent blog post, Courage & Cowardice in the Fight for a No Kill Nation, Winograd talks about his experiences with those who wish to remain anonymous.
While he did not put it into words, the underlying message is there - this is a war to reform our country’s shelter system and stop the killing of millions of companion animals, and, as unfortunate as it is, there will be casualties, primarily the animals we so desperately want to save. We will lose some in order to save millions more
I hate the thought of losing more animals because of petty retaliation by shelters. I hate that shelters use them as pawns to force people to shut up. I hate that shelters manipulate people by yanking on their heartstrings. But I hate the killing of millions of cats and dogs every year even more. In shelter reform, there are only two choices – remain silent and watch the killings continue, or speak out knowing some will be lost in the effort to reform our shelter system.
Either choice will weigh heavy on our hearts. Animals will die in shelters no matter which choice we make.
Throughout history, those who have protested injustice have had to make the choice to be silent or to speak out. They accepted the risks as the price of bringing justice and righting wrongs. Millions have died, been incarcerated, been ostracized, been attacked, been injured, had their homes destroyed … all because of speaking out.
These people accepted the consequences of the American Civil Rights Movement, the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa, the attempt to derail Hitler’s genocide of Jews, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 where as many as 800 (perhaps more) protestors were killed in a single night, and many other social movements.
The difference here is that NO PERSON is in danger of being killed, jailed, etc because of speaking out against what is wrong at the shelters. Volunteers may be dismissed. Shelter employees may be fired. Rescues may be banned from pulling. Some may be called names or have their name dragged through the mud. All of which are favorite tactics by the opposition of social movements when people dare to speak. But these retaliations do not kill or physically harm us.
We need the people in the know – the volunteers, shelter employees and rescues – to speak out for the animals. Without this insider knowledge, protests against shelters become a he said – she said scenario. The proof provided by insiders is invaluable in bringing about change.
Every person who is an animal lover, and/or cares about what goes on in our nation’s shelters, and/or hates all the killing, and/or is aware of animal welfare issues, needs to speak out too.
Every day in my Facebook newsfeed, I see comments on posts, articles, and pictures complaining about what is happening. Sometimes it’s about the shelters; sometimes it’s about abuse, neglect or cruelty. They complain or otherwise voice their opinion, but my questions to these people are …
Did YOU do something? Do you do ANYTHING?
Do you sign petitions? Do you write your state senator(s) and representative(s) about animal welfare issues? Do you write your city/town and county officials? Do you write letters to the editor of a newspaper? Do you speak out against the wrongs and speak up for the animals in any way?
How many of you who read my post Wall of Shame: NYC ACC used the link to the contact form to speak out against the shelter and for the animals? The link was right there – just click it to go to the form page. The form is set up to send to every official who needs to be aware of what is happening at the ACC – no need to find email addresses. You didn’t have to do the research into what is wrong – I provided a list and links. All you had to do was type a note.
If we remain silent, the animals will continue to be the ones who suffer and die. We must face the truth of what is going on in our country and speak out. We must bring awareness to those who have no idea what is happening. We must act and exercise our right to inform our local, state and national leaders that we want change. We must take every opportunity to speak out against injustice towards animals.
By not acting, we allow ‘the opposition’ to continue. By not speaking out or taking action, we give tacit approval of what they do. By remaining silent, we give them the power.
We must tell the truth and speak out no matter our fears, no matter how much it hurts.