Friday, January 7, 2011

I Am One Person...

"As an animal advocate, I would like to challenge every Rescue or Shelter that is killing more animals than you save to PROVE that you are doing all that you can... give the No Kill Equation a try... and IF it doesn't work to increase live outcome... I will shut up!" 

- Stephanie Conrad, owner of The Pet Studio

As I am planning my first event, well my first event as a host, I have attended countless events as a sponsor, I can't help but browse other animal advocate and animal rescue and/or shelter websites to see the things that they are doing to promote the pets in their care. 

Unlike some organizations, I can admit that I don't know it all and while I am planning and hosting this event, I sought out help and am working one on one with the staff of a wonderful organization, The Humane Society of Williamson County (HSWC) to raise money and awareness to promote their life-saving mission. Sure, this is a different style of teamwork than the average shelter is used to and while I am not personally adopting out animals, I am really struck at how just my little, one person business is making a difference by reaching out. 

In 2010, The Pet Studio started from one painting, one small gesture that made a little impact on one other person's life. From that one painting, my business has grown to producing over 80 commissions in a little over 9 months. I am happy to earn a living doing something that I love but just bringing in my own paycheck isn't enough for me. After nearly 10 years of working in and around Shelters, Rescues and Veterinary Clinics, I decided that the little something extra my business would be able to do is promote, promote and promote adoptions in any way that I can! 

In The Pet Studio's first 8 months of business (April - December 2010), I raised nearly $2400 with donations from each commissioned painting, raffle/auction donations and project donations (such as The Pit Bull Project, which raised $205 in a 24 hour period for Love-A-Bull, a Pit Bull Advocacy Group).

Now, I'm not bragging. I  like to think of myself as a humble person and I often find myself overwhelmed if I get a compliment or reduced to tears when a project goes well. Am I proud that I was able to raise donations and promote life saving efforts? Yes! Do I love that I can have these bragging rights? Sure! Who wouldn't want to be able to say that they have done some good? My point is, with a little work, one person can make a huge difference! 

A year ago, I did not have the voice that I have now. I didn't bother to get nosey or to question the direction of a shelter. I never thought to ask what they really valued as an organization because I assumed, "they are a 'shelter,' so they are doing the right thing". Oh, how wrong I was! 

I don't, and never will, understand the selfishness that some organizations are showing as they fight life saving efforts. Is it that you didn't think of No Kill first, so you oppose it out of spite? Is it a fear of change? Are you afraid of irritating a politician sitting behind a desk somewhere? Do you really think every pet that enters your shelter isn't worth saving... or at least trying to save?

Regardless of the reason, there is no excuse for the killing. When one person wants to help change things, listen! When one person has an idea to stop the killing... try! When one person turns to two people, then 3, then a community.... there is real change! I see communities coming together across the country to end the killing (Reno, NV, Ithica, NY, Charlottesville, VA, and Austin, TX: on our way!)... why isn't every community trying this out? Is there one person standing in the way? Or is there just no one who wants to step up and say, "Lets Change"!

I have to challenge these shelters to reach out to their community, build a relationship with other businesses and promote teamwork with other businesses and animal advocates to get your communities homeless pets out of the Shelter ALIVE and into their forever homes!

As one person, I am making a difference in a way that works for me and that works for the organizations I reach out to. Your way may not be the same as my way, but what are you going to do as one person to make a difference?

Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio