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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When intervention is needed, TAKE PICTURES!

"I've called animal control and they won't do anything," she bemoaned. "These poor dogs are sitting out there on chains, with no water and no shelter!"

My friend had to drive past these dogs every day on her way to work, and she was worried sick about them. Calls to animal control had accomplished nothing, so her next step was to report it to the sheriff.

"The sheriff sent animal control out there, and they came back saying the dogs were okay," she said. "Now what do I do?"

Obviously, animal control officers had been there at the "right time" and had seen nothing terribly wrong. So now what should she do?

When intervention is necessary for the welfare of an animal, nothing is harder for people to deny than photos, documented with the time they were taken. My friend is going to stop by the dogs' property twice a day for a while and take photos each time. She'll record the time she took them so she'll have a strong, gut-wrenching case to lay before the officials. She's also going to take her materials to local news media. Every newspaper and TV station has at least one reporter who has a soft spot for "animal stories." That's the person she's going to seek out. Publicity can fuel an outcry from the community, and that can get the dogs rescued.

A couple weeks ago we helped remove a neighborhood Great Pyrenees from a bad situation and lined her up with a Pyr rescue group in Missoula. When I first contacted the rescue group about the situation, the coordinator was skeptical and unemotional about my plea. After all, she was deluged with rescue cases every week, and no foster homes were available at the time....but then I sent her photos of the dog, chained and filthy. Within hours she got back to me and said arrangements had been made to foster the dog, and that we needed to get her out of that situation ASAP! She had forwarded the photos on to others in the statewide network, and had gotten instant response.

Later she light-heartedly confessed me, "I hate it when people send pictures, because it's impossible to turn them down! When you actually see how these dogs are living, you want to help them right away."

Photos reach out and touch people and GET ACTION. So keep that cell phone handy, along with pen and notepad. Some neglected dog is waiting for you to intervene.

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