By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director of Suncoast Humane Society
Published in the Englewood Sun on January 18, 2015
Doesn’t it just tear your heart out to watch the television commercials that feature neglected and abused dogs and cats? The national animal welfare organizations that sponsor these ads provide music and lyrics that get you all choked up, as a celebrity or the organization’s representative describes the horrors these poor animals are facing. Over the holidays, many of the commercials even used Christmas music as a touching theme.
Several organizations that advertise nationally use this type of advertising. At least three of these organizations have their commercials airing on our local cable and network stations.
Granted, these animal-welfare and -protection organizations do provide valuable programs for animals on a national level. They are a resource, when needed, for local humane societies, animal care/control, and rescue groups. They offer advice and materials on a variety of programs and issues. Some national organizations will provide assistance when there are local weather-related disasters, or even with large-scale cruelty investigations, such as dog fighting or hoarding cases.
What bothers me is the fact that, when watching their sponsored television commercials, one would think they operate animal shelters, right here in southwest Florida. I am quite sure that representatives of local human organizations in other areas of the country feel the same. Is that the intent? And does it make us donate? I think it is, and I think it does.
These national organizations do not operate animal shelters anywhere close to our area. One nationally advertised organization does operate shelters in a northeastern state. Another operates an animal sanctuary of sorts in a state in the West. A third does not operate any animal shelters for dogs or cats, anywhere at all. Again, they do provide resources in areas of humane legislation, public awareness and education. But they do not operate local animal shelters in southwest Florida.
It is your local humane societies, animal control, adoption agencies and rescue groups that save animals locally and give them that second chance at life.
I have friends tell me that they have supported the Suncoast Humane Society because they wrote a check to one of the national organizations. One individual called me recently, very upset when she realized she mistakenly had donated a vehicle to a national organization, following one of these ads. She thought she was donating to us. I have had to inform many people that national organizations are not governing bodies to local humane societies, and there is not financial trickle-down effect.
Again, national humane organizations have their own agendas, and their programs do need financial support. This being said, please remember, it is your local shelters that are the voice for animals here at home, and they desperately need your support. It is good practice to check the websites of local organizations or call to find out just how each organization helps animals and people, and most, of call, who is worthy of your financial support.