I grew up with pets and loving to write. These two passions came together in 2014 when I volunteered to write for Lincoln Animal Ambassadors’ Pet Talk blog. Through blogging for LAA, I became aware of the importance of using preventative measures to address the root causes of animal homelessness. This new blog, Lincoln Pet Culture, is a direct result of my involvement with LAA. For this reason, I owe a huge thanks to LAA for inspiring me down the path of humane education.
I also owe gratitude to Lincoln’s animal welfare community. In March 2015, I wrote an article about local pet heroes. Most of my examples came from pet owners who responded to my call for anecdotes on Facebook. To this day, part of the fun of writing articles comes from contact with local pet owners. In April 2015, I wrote an article about keeping pets safe during storms, for which I interviewed local veterinarians. Since then, I’ve learned much from local veterinarians and other experts about how to best care for our pets. I could list other examples of articles compiled from interviews but will restrict myself to just one other. In June 2015, I wrote a series of four articles about being a pet foster parent. As part of writing this series, I began to network with our local rescues and shelters. Thanks to the positive response to me as an animal advocate, the majority of my current Facebook friends are part of the animal welfare community, which means a lot to me. I didn’t grow up in Lincoln, and finding my place in a city of over 270,000 people wasn’t an easy feat, and so I want to say thanks to those who have welcomed me.
Along the way, there have been joys and sorrows, and these have taught me truths that serve as the foundation for Lincoln Pet Culture.
First, I’ve become a staunch believer in the adage about being a village or in the words of Best Friends’ Animal Society, “together we can save them all.” There are multiple strategies for improving animal welfare and no one animal welfare group can pursue all strategies, and therefore it’s important for all of the groups to recognize the contributions of the others and work together. History has shown us that progress has been greatest when cooperation has been greatest (Animal Welfare Takes a Village).
Second, I’ve realized the importance of taking care of each other and ourselves. The animal welfare village isn’t composed of saints but of human beings who are passionate but also flawed. Sometimes we fail in our attempts to do best for an animal. Sometimes we encounter heart-breaking situations that take an emotional toll. And sometimes our passion causes us to be too critical of each other. A recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that animal rescue workers have a workplace suicide rate of 5.3 in 1 million workers. While these statistics are of paid workers rather than volunteers, sooner or later everyone in the animal welfare field risks compassion fatigue. The best defense we have against this, I believe, is to make a commitment to kindness. This is hard work and we need each other. (Be Kind)
The third foundation upon which I’ve built Lincoln Pet Culture is my background as a writer. For better or worse, I’ve always adhered to the journalistic practice of being objective and taking all points of view into consideration. In the fall of 2016, when Lincoln Animal Ambassadors asked me to promote a spay/neuter campaign that focused on pit bulls, I found myself in a dilemma. I had never met a pit bull, but I had heard lots of negative stories, and so I didn’t feel comfortable blindly promoting the breed. Instead I researched the reasons people like and dislike pit bulls. I also jumped at the opportunity to meet a pit bull. When I sat down to write a series of articles, I presented what I had learned and drew some conclusions, but I also encouraged readers to make up their own minds about the pit bull controversy. I believe strongly in journalistic integrity and will continue to uphold it, especially when it comes to controversial topics. In the end, however, I must admit to having my own biases, and so at times I am moved to write opinion pieces.
I suppose I’d be remiss if I ended this introduction without referring to my qualifications. I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and various courses in journalism. My articles have been published in local publications. While I grew up with pets, my time in animal welfare began well into my adult years. I’ve volunteered with several local groups including Hearts United for Animals and Husker Cats, fostered for a few groups including the Capital Humane Society, Nebraska No Kill Canine Rescue, and The Cat House, and belong to many animal welfare groups including Best Friends Network Partners, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (for whom I’ve also written an article), and International Cat Therapy. The number of books I’ve read about animals are numerous, I recently began taking online courses and webinars to ensure that I’m able to present the most accurate information possible about animal welfare.
Lincoln Pet Culture is a tribute to everyone in the animal welfare world. It’s also specifically dedicated to the two most important men in my life. It was my dad who first inspired my love of animals. And, it’s my husband who makes it possible for me to pursue my passion for animal welfare through his daily support: If my articles read well and my visuals look good, this is in huge part due to his skills. Finally, this blog is in honor of my first cat, Lucy. She’s the reason I started down this path of being a voice for homeless animals, especially cats.
Be part of the village. Be kind. And love God’s dearest angels here on earth—our pets.