By Bob Quarteroni,
I am a sucker for all creatures great and small, particularly dogs and cats; especially dogs and cats who are mistreated or left to starve or freeze or forced to suffer hells inflicted on them by the slimiest of humans.
When I see such abominations, I literally lose control.
If I had my way the penalties for doing those things to poor creatures would be the same as for doing them to people – and I’m not being facetious.
To hurt one of these unfortunate little fur babies who trust and love us so much and who make our lives infinitely better by sharing their wisdom, fun, goofiness and occasional roll in bear poop is beyond the pale, simply inexcusable.
Obsessional as I am about this, I have always cringed and dived for the mute button when the doleful ASPCA ads come on television, with their searing images of suffering, mute and tortured animals. Simply too too much as I guiltily looked away.
I have contributed to the ASPCA over the years but they share my charity bucks with everyone from Doctors without Borders to the American Leprosy Mission, Feeding AmerIca, etc. There’s a whole lot of need out there.
But I’ve been a little too slow to mute a few times when the ASPCA ads came on and the sickening images burned their way into what passes for an atheists’ soul, so I decided to shut said soul up by donating the suggested $19 a month.
Which I started to do when I thought It couldn’t hurt to check with some watchdog sites to see that ASPCA is spending its money wisely.
I’ve been ruined by places like Newman’s Own, Paul Newman’s Foundation and its “100 percent of Profits to Charity” commitment. That makes me happy since Opie, Molly and Riley are addicted to its pricey – and super-pungent – jerky.
That’s what I wanted to see.
What I got instead was a lot of filler.
CharityWatch, an independent watchdog, reported that the ASPCA spends up to 35 percent of its budget on overhead, and 38 cents to raise every dollar, giving the organization a so-so C+ rating.
Charity Navigator calculates that ASPCA spent a whopping $52 million on fundraising in 2012, a truly staggering total.
And then there’s the salaries.
Anne Paddock, who follows these things on her Paddock Post site, said in April that the organization has 1,177 employees that cost the organization nearly $80 million a year, led by the $436,651 paid to Mathew Bershadker, president and CEO.
All told, the 15 highest paid employees received a whopping $ 4.5 million in pay.
THAT is a lot of kibble.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the ASPCA. It’s just that I’m not happy with millions of dollars spent on trying to wring money out of people to help animals instead of helping the animals directly.
Then, a smelly little epiphany waddled in.
Opie was displaying his new Wegman’s meat bone.
in a no-brainer instant I realized the best way for me to help animals financially was at Blue Chip Animal Refuge, the local non-profit, no-kill shelter from where we got Opie, the love of my life, after Blue Chip rescued him from a high-kill shelter in the south.
I did a little volunteering there – walking dogs mostly – some years back before my legs went South – and found it a truly wonderful place, no kill, all welcome, but in the blur of daily life it had fallen off my radar.
This house-based shelter was started by Marge Bart in 1996, the year she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At the time, she said, “I decided to keep my mind on helping animals. And that kept my mind off of my M.S.”
It’s a labor of love for Bart and her 40 plus volunteers and all the locals who give so that Bart can make sure that no animal is ever rejected or euthanized. If they can’t be adopted – like a pair of elderly beagles who live together – then they have a comfortable, caring place to live out their days in dignity.
Money? Blue Chip has one employee, a devoted band of 50 plus volunteers and depends on the kindness of regional animal lovers to help pay for such items as a monthly $1,000 bill for cat litter.
Photos of cats and dogs seeking their forever homes in space donated by the local papers is about as far as Blue Chip’s media outreach goes.
While the ASPCA’s of the world may worry about a bottom line, Blue Chip draws no line: pedigree doesn’t matter here, just need.
I am not here to condemn the ASPCA, they do good work and there’s a chance I may donate to them in the future.
But this is a real think globally, act locally moment for me.
And more, it reminds me of what President Barack Obama said: “A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me.”
I am a mutt writ large. So my $20 (I’ll go wild and add a buck!) monthly contribution will now go to Blue Chip, where it will directly help an animal in need, not a fund raiser’s salary.
After all, us mutts got to stick together.
As for the ASPCA ads, I just need to find a remote with a much faster mute button.